I often wonder if we truly came to realize how much our apathy, our overt and covert racism, homophobia, genderism (or pick an ism/phobia) hurts us on a personal level — would we finally do something about it? If we found out it was making us sick, if we felt it in our own lives, on our own bodies, in our own homes, in our own minds, would we finally be compelled to do something? Or would we still just be stuck on “right” to save face and suffer silently, or blame it on “them?” I think we put a lot of energy into saving face, and a lot of running from the truth… or even mangling it, covering it up. We think, “I’m not the one; surely it’s not me,” and even get mad when confronted.
We put a LOT of energy into this, and yet we think we remain unaffected by the covering up, the pretending, the avoidance to look at ourselves squarely and honestly. We put on a mask when we go about our daily business outside of the home, but when we return the mask is put away and we discuss all about “those people,” and we have strong opinions on people we can’t even see honestly. We pretend (or do we really believe this) that if we don’t talk about it, refuse to give it attention, that we somehow are not contributing to the racism, the homophobia, Islamic hatred, etc. We tell ourselves and others that we just won’t participate in the discussions because that would be contributing to the problem. But…
WHEN HAS IGNORING SOMETHING EVER MADE IT BETTER?
If you let it, this might set you free from the invisible box you have created for yourself and probably the children you might be influencing…. Do you know that you don’t even have to understand how or why people are who they are to just let them live, and even to love them? And here’s the REAL personal freedom…. Once you are able to embrace that, it’s no effort to embrace them just as they are. That’s where love lives, and that’s what it looks like.
We like to say that we love all people, don’t we? It sounds right, and feels good to say — even seems logical. For added theatrics or emphasis, we even wave our hand when we say it as if we’re brushing off how ridiculous it is to even have to say it out loud.
- You have a good relationship with your Black neighbor, and your kids even play together.
- But do you love Black PEOPLE?
- That Muslim woman in the next cubicle is hilarious, and you frequently lunch together.
- But do you love Muslim PEOPLE?
- The Mexican woman who babysits your children during the past four summers is a wonderful addition to your lives and with whom you entrust your children. She even teaches them Spanish!
- But do you love Mexican PEOPLE?
- You’re nice to Emily, the transgender checker at the grocery store that you look forward to seeing every week.
- But do you love transgender PEOPLE?
- Your love your cousin who is gay and you get along great with him and his husband.
- But do you love gay PEOPLE?
I’m sure you’re onto me by now, and may have already begun making excuses before you reached the end of the list or stopped reading the list altogether. Hopefully none of that’s true and you get the point. But if it is true, I hope you ask yourself why that is, and I hope you go even further and begin really thinking about this. One thing that can happen is that you will start showing up as the person you’ve been saying you are. You remember — the one that loves all people!
I get it. (I don’t, actually, but I do know something about this personally.) You’re secretly afraid of what other people in your circles might think. You don’t want to admit it, but it’s true. You’re afraid of what you will lose, and this is a driving force for so many of us that causes us sometimes to double down on the excuses, and why so many of us turn to apathy, ignoring, or defending all the “good people on both sides.” We are more afraid of how we might look, what we might lose, or even who we might have to talk to in a new way.
Freedom. That’s what you get. You get freedom from the excuses, freedom from toxic ideas and people. You get new vision, and you get to do the work of self-repair, self-reflection, and self-love instead of the arduous work of covering up, the laziness of apathy and tolerating, and the sweat-work of defending terrible people, systems and ideations. You get freedom from the pain of giving and being an assist to systems that hurt other people. You will lose some; you will. And then you will be free from people who won’t operate on a higher level of humanity.
Operating from this is also work, but it isn’t the kind that hurts us on a soul level or the level of hurting humanity. In fact, it’s actually restorative on a cellular level. And the best part of all… you will be on your way to telling the truth when you say, “I LOVE ALL PEOPLE.”