Often this world seems so full of terrible things that I can barely stand it. I see things I cannot unsee and I read things I cannot unread. Today was one of those days. Homophobia, sexism, racism, bigotry, overwhelming violence so deep under the skin of American culture that it skirts by unnoticed under the guise of humor or opinion or fact.
When it comes down to it, hate is easy and love is hard. There are things in this world that are easy to love. Babies, ice cream, and snuggies all come to mind, but on a whole life is easier when we allow ourselves to judge and vilify rather than to understand and accept and dare I say befriend. Hate is easier than choosing to love someone who is different : someone who kneels before a deity whose name feels foreign in your mouth, someone whose skin contains more or less melanin than your own, someone who chooses a real honest love over your idea of convention , someone who communicates in a language that is alien to your ears. Hate is easier than looking into ourselves and seeing the prejudice that lies their in a comfortable bed we’ve built around it. It takes a lot of energy but very little thought. Hate, like water, takes the path of least resistance.
Sometimes this world feels so tarnished that I am embarrassed to have brought a child into it. I look at her and my own fear churns wildly . What seed of hate will be planted in her when I am not around? What racist or sexist comment will take root in the still forming gyri of her brain and grow until it’s as much a part of her as those big blue eyes that are so open and accepting of the world around her?
Hate is dark and pungent and pervasive but it cannot snuff out love entirely. The little light of hope and understanding is a tiny firefly in a pitch black field on a night with no moon. But that light is bright, it is different, it is unmistakable, and it is impossible to ignore. And love is stronger. A life preserver in a wide, wild sea. It floats in spite of the choppy water, it buoys the tallest waves. It refuses to sink, even under the weight of an entire ocean.
Martin Luther King Jr. said it most eloquently when he said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” And so on nights like tonight I will squint and search for that little lightning bug. I will cup it gently in my palm and give it a safe place to rest for its work is important and its journey is long.