“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — Jesus
“Know you got to run,
Know you got to hide
Still there is a great life
Lingerin’ deep within your eyes.
Everybody, I love you
Everybody, I do
Though your heart is in anger
I need your love to get through
When I tell you I love you
You can believe that it’s true” —
Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
When I get in moods like this, I sing the song above, and I remember what it feels like to love everybody. Joan Baez, in an early autobiography, wrote “dear reader, I love you” and she seems to both be “out there” and authentic, which seems impossibly weird and yet isn’t. The sentiment is about intention and open-ness and your default position with humanity.
My friend Joyce posted an anguished thing this morning about bigotry this morning, and how aware she is of it. Another friend of mine posted disliking Obama’s speech in Hiroshima. Yet, another friend posted just the text of that speech and loved it. More often than not lately, I am like Joyce — aware of the bigotry we seem to all manage right now and saddened by it.
A while ago, during the Ferguson riots I think, I wrote a blog post called “An Open Letter to My African-American Friends” that explained I didn’t know that things had gotten that bad, and how incredibly sorry I was that I hadn’t known. Since that post, I have been paying attention and I am astounded just how deep into the American psyche hate has become. Violence, incivility, mean-ness, bullying — and not caring that we’re doing it — seems to be the order of the day. If Donald Trump “says what we’re all thinking”, then we’re all thinking some pretty ugly things right now. The fact that so many congratulate him for doing so means that we’re congratulating him and ourselves for being xenophobic, Islamaphobic, homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, and now climate-change denying — not all at once, I assume, but what do I know? Then the people outside of Trump rallies get into clashes with the people inside, and the people who are angry inside get defensive and say “see, we’re being attacked”!
Meanwhile, over in the Democratic party, there are “Bernie bros”, who seem to not like Hillary because she’s a woman. What’s that about? Frat boys who hope to get wives at some point aren’t starting off the future very well. Does anyone remember that we’re are all stuck here in life on the planet?
So, here are a few suggestions, just for my sanity:
- Start with the idea that people are holy, just like you.
- Treat them like they are.
- If you can’t comprehend the concept of “holy”, think about how you would like to be treated.
- Treat others the same way.
- If people aren’t doing anything to you, leave them alone.
- If people are doing something that doesn’t concern you, let them do it.
- Don’t assume that if I like someone else, that I dislike you. Whether I like, or am talking to, or enjoy anyone doesn’t mean anything about you. It means I like them. Ten minutes from now, I might be talking to, and enjoying, you.
- If someone is male, female, Black, White, gay, straight, in some form of transition between those two, or speaks another language or has another religion, it’s none of your business. It may irritate you. That’s your problem. Figure it out and get over it, without taking it out on them or someone else.
- If it’s someone else’s body, leave it alone, unless they actually say they want to share it with you for nice things.
- Assume decency and good motives from everyone, unless you learn otherwise.
We all know how hateful people can be right now. Let’s try something different, maybe something old.