“I hate mosquitos.”
While that declaration is true for many of us, when stated from the mouth of my toddler-age niece it became a lesson on many levels. “We don’t say ‘hate’,” was the adults’ response. “Say ‘don’t like’ instead.” I watched the loving, independent, inquisitive child play and clarity hit me like a building block.
How often have we use the term “hate” on a daily basis about the smallest of things (I hate spiders. I hate cleaning the bathroom. I hate broccoli) so much so that little ears listen even when we would prefer they didn’t. We use the word as though we own it but in actuality I’ve come to realize that it owns us more than the other way around.
HATE: A four-letter word that wields power, inflicting pain, grief, anger, and decay. The anger and fury provide a tangible outlet for our deepest fears and ignorance. I understand the desire to spew forth hatred in your words and actions – to lash out towards individuals or groups who you deem threaten your way of life. It breaks us down – not only those who are the targets, but those of us who weaponize it.
Since November 9th, 2016 I’ve used the term “hate” on at least a weekly, if not daily, basis:
I hate the results of our presidential election.
I hate that many of my fellow Americans cast their vote for a candidate whose inadequacies, flaws, prejudices, and bullish behavior surrounded him like a pulsating red light – an aura/siren warning us of impending danger.
I hate the Confederate flag – it makes my peach-colored skin crawl and my blood boil when I think of not only those who fought in opposition to slavery but those who still hold tight to the prejudices that kept the oppressed in chains.
I hate that climate change deniers put all of us at risk, especially the lives of the children and grandchildren. They strip away the truth because it’s not politically convenient, thus causing catastrophic and long-term devastation.
I feel powerless and unheard as our country rebuilds roadblocks that were once knocked down by passionate defenders of equal rights for women, minorities, and the religiously persecuted. As America’s president chooses words and actions that offend, divide, and separate Americans from one another and the world (Paris Climate Accord *cough, cough*) I must hold myself to a higher standard than that of our “leader”.
The America I believe in and love, she is in dire distress – physically, morally, and spiritually. I cannot change the minds and hearts of those who support and champion our current White House administration. I can only change my reaction to them.
I choose love instead of hate. I choose hope instead of despair. I choose to use my words to lift us up, not knock us down. And when I’m inclined to let anger and disillusionment turn to hate, I pledge to move forward with hope, compassion, resolute determination, and love guiding my path. May my words and actions be a positive example for my nieces and nephews and their descendants.