The entire past week, I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what I should write in the wake of the events in Charlottesville last weekend. It’s really tough because in today’s age, everything can and probably will be taken out of context. I feel like I’ve finally come to grips with how I feel about the state of our country and the entire world, really. And it all boils down to a life lesson that a dear friend of mine taught me many years ago.
Back in my early-to-mid twenties, I remember stumbling into a room where several friends were hanging out. At this point in my life, I wasn’t really a great person. That sometimes comes as a surprise to people who only know me today. The person who bends over backwards to try and at least initially be courteous and polite to everyone. It took a lot of growing up and learning about boundaries and respect for me to get here. In any case, that’s not the point and maybe a story for another day. Needless to say, I’ve scorned a few people in my day. I’m not proud or happy about it. But even though by now it’s ancient history, it’s still part of me. I’ve tried to rebuild the burned bridges, but it’s not quite good enough for some. After being on the other side of similar situations now, I can’t blame them. Sometimes “sorry” just isn’t good enough.
One evening, I entered a room full of friends who were hanging out with one or two of said people. These people were trashing me, saying every awful thing they could think of to tarnish my name. It didn’t make me happy, but I stayed quiet because I probably deserved it. What happened instead though brought me to tears. Those that are still friends of mine to this day stood up for me instead. By speaking factually and logically and without resorting to profanity or violence, they put the haters in their place and caused them to leave. It may have been the first time that I ever truly witnessed someone defending me. I was speechless.
Thankfully, one of those friends of mine summed it up perfectly for me in just one beautiful sentence:
Hate can’t live in a house of love.
That’s all there really is to it. When love exists among a group of people or among all people, there’s nowhere for hate to really turn. To quote Chiwetel Ejiofor in one of my favorite films, Serenity, he states: “When your enemy goes to ground, leave him no ground to go to.” That’s what love, kindness, and compassion do to hate, anger, and rage. There’s nowhere for it to hide and fester and it just evaporates. And I think that’s what we need to do as a country. We need to love each other better. Everyone needs to support and encourage our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, team members, classmates, and even our opponents and competitors. We need to because our President can’t even bring himself to outright condemn their behavior himself. We’ll need to leave no ground for neo-Nazis or white nationalists (or whatever they want to call themselves now!) or any other hate group to go to.
I will say before closing that I’m so glad to be an American today. While I’m often horrified or feeling defeated when watching CNN coverage of world events, I can’t help but be thankful of the response since then. People are justifiably outraged at what is happening to our world. Not just there, but everywhere. I’ve never seen so many people of varying backgrounds spring into action since the day Donald Trump was elected to office. We’re no longer sitting idly by and letting the government make statements and decisions that don’t represent who we are. We’re not fleeing the country because we don’t like how it’s run. Instead, we’re actively searching for ways to protest and to push back. We’re standing up and we’re telling President Trump, “Not on our watch.” I’m proud to be a citizen in a country that won’t let this evil have anywhere to flourish.
Because hate can’t live in a house of love.