I don’t actually spend a whole lot of time on social media sites—well, not unless I am having one of those days when my self-discipline fails to show up.
But I do spend some time there each day, because next to writing there is nothing I enjoy more than interacting with my readers. Many of them I count as friends, and aside from posting things that might be of interest to them, I like to see what all they’re interested in themsevles. But it’s not only my regular readers whose postings I see. For better or worse I have more than 2500 “friends” on face book, so, as you can imagine, I end up getting all kinds of different stories in my news feed.
I love laughing at the funny things—cute animal videos, clever “signs”—some so clever I “share” them on my own time line. I enjoy sarcasm as much as the next person, and I do have a bit of a warped sense of humor.
But there’s been a trend lately that makes me uncomfortable. And I guess in a way—if you read my last week’s essay—you could call what I’m about to write here “Karma, part 2”.
In the last few weeks especially, I have been seeing way too many signs, sayings, pictures with captions, that I would class as hate-speak. And I have to ask the question, why are we letting ourselves take up that destructive emotion? Why are we letting hateful words and thoughts have time in our lives?
Yes, there is such a thing as freedom of speech and it is a precious, precious right. I would never consider curtailing someone’s right to express their opinion. I’m not suggesting that people don’t express opposition or dissension. We can be against something, we can disagree with someone, but do we have to hate?
Hate is the king of negative emotions. It is a seductress, but a false one. When we begin to indulge in it, it floods us with a sense of righteousness. When we post hateful things, striking out at those people or ideas we don’t like, we are rewarded with a sense of accomplishment: Boy, I really let them have it. We get a sense of well being: Glad I got that off my chest. That’ll teach them. And we get a sense of importance: I bet everyone wishes they had said that.
The only trouble is, these “rewards” are false. What you really get, for feeling hate and spreading hate, is more hate building up inside of you! It’s true. Love and hate are polar opposites, but the rules for each are the same. If you show love and feel love, you get more love within; and if you show and feel hate—yep, it gets multiplied, too. Hate will build up inside a person, filling them with darkness, and obscuring any light that was there—preventing any new light from entering in.
Have you ever been filled with hate, and it’s near cousin, anger? I have. Years ago, that was me. I was filled with hate, anger, envy...and quite frankly, I was miserable all the time. What a hellish, horrible feeling that was. I cannot now, all these years later, even imagine being a person devoted to hating, the way I used to be—the way some people seem to be, today. The most dangerous thing about hate is that it is a progressive disease—a kind of cancer of the spirit.
You yourself know this is true. I think most of us have one person in our news feed who begins with the odd hate-filled message, and then escalates. They can’t help it because, yeah, hate breeds hate.
Is there anyone reading this who truly believes that their hate-filled message to an organization or a leader will affect change? I’m not saying one person can’t make a difference. What I am saying is allowing hate and anger to grow inside of you and spewing it out for everyone to read is not the way to affect change.
You affect changed by getting involved and working for change. You don’t like the way your school is being run? Get involved with the PTA, or run for the school board, and help to create a better reality.
You don’t like the way your government is run? Join one of the political parties, and have a say in their platform, and work to get them elected.
Spoiled brats playing in the park kick dirt and throw stones when they don’t like how things are going, when they don’t get their way. If it can’t be their way, then they leave.
But we’re not spoiled brats. We’re adults, living, here in North America, in countries where there is rule of law, and where we have democracy—blessed democracy. Everybody of legal voting age who qualifies through citizenship gets the same thing everyone else gets: one vote. Implicit in that vote, is the acceptance of the outcome of the election, regardless what it may be.
That is what democracy is all about.