Dear Fearful One,
I know that progress has led to big changes and sometimes that can be scary. And for some people, fear can lead to hate because they don’t know how else to deal with their emotions. It’s okay. I am not angry at you. There is enough anger, hatred and fear to go around already.
Maybe you don’t care what I think. That’s totally fine. But what about the people around you? Did you ever wonder if they had different opinions? If your words or actions are upsetting or offending them? At best, your good friends will pull you aside and tell you that what you just said was offensive. At worst, they will remain silent while inwardly cringing. Then you wonder why the party invites are getting fewer and fewer or why your best friend no longer has time for coffee dates with you.
And that’s not all. This fear and anger – it is affecting more than just you. As soon as you tell that racist joke, whisper to your friends about that other “crazy” religion, debate against equal rights or share that xenophobic post on Facebook, you are spreading the fear like a sickness.
People can be impressionable. And maybe you are a parent, a sibling, a boss or a mentor. Maybe you play none of these roles, however you still have people who look up to you and respect your opinions. People who give weight to what you say.
And surely that is not the impact that you want to make upon the world. The lasting impressions that you leave on your family, friends or co-workers. Those negative feelings can’t feel good inside of you, so why would you want to share it with someone else? It won’t make you feel better and it will only make them feel afraid.
So if you continue down this path, where will it lead? The fear makes you easy to control and the anger will take over your life because you feel like you have lost control. News programs will amplify the terror in your mind. Headlines will scream manipulated stories to make you vote one way or another. Social media streams filled with nonsensical articles that prey upon people’s emotions and beg them to click “share”.
So consider a different route. Hold off on spreading the fear, anger and hatred. At least until you have done your homework. Watch a documentary, find an unbiased news source, open a history book, listen to a different point of view, research about a foreign country, connect with different cultures or buy a plane ticket. Learn about the very things that you are afraid of. The unknown.
Because underneath all those sensational headlines, there are complex stories from all walks of life with different education levels, nationalities, belief systems, communities and sexual preferences. Different points of view. And even with all our individual differences, once you delve deep you will find a lot of similarities between the citizens of the world.
Open yourself up to a different path. Not one of fear, anger and hatred. Try understanding, compassion and love. Then when you find yourself on the other side, hearing a loved one making a racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic comment… you can tell them there is a way to live without fear.
Someone who cares