We’re All in this Together

A commentary on the need for hope.

I saw a video recently which made a lot of sense. The video was talking about our chaotic world which every human is experiencing; a world facing an apparent pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, protests against Covid restrictions, mask confusion, human trafficking, missing children, ever changing messaging, and the list goes on. Here is the essence of the video.

The video emphasized that we’re all enduring this storm together no matter what our beliefs and personal truths are. Everyone has their own truths and beliefs, but we are all navigating these confusing times together as best we can. For many, it may feel like we’re divided, polarized, and fighting against one another. Many feel confused and frightened about what is going on. Despite this, the speaker says to pay attention to how you react and respond to other humans, to your knee jerk reactions, and to avoid asserting that someone is wrong. There is no right or wrong. Practice being neutral.

The speaker goes on to talk about neutrality. She says you can navigate through the chaos with neutrality. You can still have your opinions, beliefs, and your own truths, but see and respect other people’s truths as well. That is what neutrality is. We are all experiencing our own human journey together amongst the chaos, so pay attention to your response to others, having more compassion for them since we don’t know what other people have experienced or what they’re going through. How kind can you be to others? We can be unified with our differing thoughts, beliefs, and still retain our individuality. Be kind, as everyone is doing the best they can.

The message in the video resonated with me. My beliefs about what is happening have not changed. However, I’ve realized that I may have failed to be sensitive to other’s perspectives and beliefs, pushing my perspective without considering other perspectives and beliefs out there. I may have forgotten that many people are fearful; fearful of the virus, or afraid that something sinister is happening in our world. The video reminded me that every human is navigating the chaos as best they can and that now is a time for kindness. If ever there was a time for unity and hope, it is at this time.

Having said that, the speaker did talk about the importance of considering other perspectives, to question everything, and to be skeptical about what we are being told. Be a truth seeker!

In May, I (#blog, #blogger, #YA, #authors, #somseason) wrote a post titled,  An Opportunity, Or Back to the Same? In that post I quoted the author, poet, speaker, educator, humanitarian and social justice activist, Sonya Renee Taylor, who said:

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-Corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”

From the very beginning of this alleged pandemic, I’ve always felt strongly that the world is going through an awakening or reset; that the Universe, God, Yahweh, Allah, Creator, or some greater power is orchestrating this, and awakening us to  the “greed, inequity, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack” that is on a global scale; awakening us to racism, bullying (#antibullying, #bullying), misogyny, and tribalism. I believe this now more than ever.

Recently, I saw a post on social media that said:

Don’t Give up on this year.

Keep fighting for the good.

Keep showing up.

Keep loving.

Keep giving back.

Keep being kind.

Keep being brave.

Keep caring.

Keep trying new things.

Keep showing grace.

Keep on.

This world needs you to believe in the good.

How true that is. The fact is, it doesn’t matter if we believe that the mainstream media is imparting fear causing a steep rise in suicides and drug overdoses (see Opioid deaths double) or not. It doesn’t matter if we believe our governments are taking away our rights. It doesn’t matter, as we are free to believe what we want. What does matter is for humanity to be united, to believe in good, and to practice kindness.

Idowu Koyenikan, in his book, Wealth for All: Living a Life of Success at the Edge of Your Ability, said: “There is no denying that there is evil in this world but the light will always conquer the darkness.” Author, Ken Poirot, says, “Light can devour the darkness but darkness cannot consume the light.” In John 1:5 of the Christian scriptures it says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Several major religious festivals use light to acclaim the power of spiritual hope. Christians decorate Christmas trees with lights to symbolize Jesus Christ as the light of the world. During Diwali, a Hindu festival, fireworks displays and candles are used to celebrate the hope of spiritual victories. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, or “Festival of Lights,” is a festival of hope, that teaches us that there is no limit to what we can accomplish when we let God—or the Universe, Yahweh, Allah, Creator, or whatever you want to call it—be our guiding light. The festival encourages everyone to shine light in the darkest places of our lives and in our world.

Science tells us that light overpowers darkness since the photons (small packages of light) can dispel darkness, but darkness cannot dispel light. This principle can be seen simply by entering a dark room and turning on a flashlight. The light is visible in the midst of the darkness, even if there’s just only a small amount of light in a great amount of darkness. This same principle applies spiritually, as the light of hope is always stronger than the darkness of discouragement, fear, despair or even evil. I choose to believe we are living in a time of hope; a time where light is overtaking the darkness in our world, even though it doesn’t feel like it at times or even if we don’t believe it.

The South African Anglican cleric, Desmund Tutu, is known for his anti-apartheid and human rights work. He said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  What the world needs most, right now, is for humanity to have hope that there is light entering our dark world.  To believe we are experiencing a cleansing; a time of light entering our world. Perhaps we’ve been living in darkness—“greed, inequity, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack,”—and we didn’t even see it. The world needs to have hope that what we are all experiencing will end and that we will end up with a better world. Perhaps this experience will create a strong desire to build a better world instead of returning to what was. I choose to have hope and to no longer live in fear. You should too.

Ignorance, Fear, Hate. What about Love?

A commentary on the effects of fear on society.

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From Fox News

CNN.com reports in their article, ‘Make America White Again’: Hate speech and crimes post-election, that there has been a stark increase in hate crimes against minorities. The article says, while Trump has been accused of fostering xenophobia (fear of people from other countries) and Islamophobia (fear of Muslims), some people have used his words as justification to carry out hateful crimes. Since Trump’s election there have been incidents of racist or anti-Semitic, pro-Trump graffiti along with threats or attacks against Muslims. Graffiti such as, ‘Trump,’ ‘Whites only,’ and ‘White America’ have shown up in high schools. Graffiti written on a wall in Durham, North Carolina said, “Black lives don’t matter and neither does your votes.” In the state of NY ‘Make America White Again’ was written in a softball dugout. This is just a sampling of the post-election happenings. CTV News reports a story that occurred at Royal Oak Middle School the day after Trump won the election where students chanted “build the wall”  in the school cafeteria, a reference to President-elect Donald Trump’s call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. That’s not even mentioning the numerous anti-Trump protests that have occurred since election day.

rtx1gzco (1)What has Trump unleashed in America? One could argue that what Trump has unleashed is hatred. Hatred of non-whites. Hatred of immigrants. Hatred of Hispanics. Hatred towards African-Americans. The list goes on. Dictionary.com defines hate as “to dislike intensely or passionately; to feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; to detest. Graffiti such as, “Make America White Again” seems to suggest there is a hatred of non-whites.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American lecturer, poet, and essayist says, “Fear always springs from ignorance.”  Cyril Connolly, a literary critic and writer says, “Hate is the consequence of fear; we fear something before we hate it; a child who fears noises becomes a man who hates noise”. So, one could surmise that ignorance breeds fear. Fear breeds hate. Hate perpetrates harassment and violence. This is likely what is happening in the United States. Donald Trump has tapped into the fears of Americans (fear of Muslims, fear of immigrants, fear of terrorism) and used that fear to propel himself to the office of the presidency.  Now America is witnessing the consequences of that in the form of hate crimes. One might ask, where does the fear come from? The answer to that question, according to Ralph Waldo Emerson is ignorance. Are Americans really that ignorant?

Steffani Cameron is a journalist who was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Feeling trapped by the monotony of life, Ms. Cameron sold her belongings for the chance to work remotely while travelling the world for five years. In the first 13 months, she flew 50,000 kilometres and explored 10 countries. After the Trump victory, she wrote an article titled, Why we need to travel more than ever. In her article she says,

In America, today, fewer than 40% of the populace has a passport, and even fewer put it to use. Beyond that, education is crumbling. Secondary education is for the wealthy…Talk to anyone who has traveled the world at length and they’ll often tell you the biggest lesson they learn is how much we have in common rather than what we don’t. But in places like America, where so few people travel outside the borders, they’re more likely to believe what they’re told about “us” and “them”. When they are told who’s a bad guy, that it’s anyone with a different culture, different colour skin, then they’ll latch onto that story, because they’re unexposed to diversity and it’s an alien enemy they can process…When media talks about “Muslim extremism,” it’s easy to convince an under-educated, under-traveled public that it means all Muslims are extreme. They may not know any, so how can they decide differently?

I would encourage you to read her article. I think what Ms. Cameron says is ‘bang on”. I personally can attest to what she says as I have travelled a far bit. I’ve been to Europe three times visiting numerous European countries. I’ve been to the Balkans, Cuba, and Mexico. I’ve also visited various American states. One thing I’ve discovered during my travels is that there are wonderful people everywhere. In my post, Where are all the Good People? and Let the Adventures Begin, I wrote about some of the wonderful people I encountered while travelling.

Here are some experiences I had on our most recent trip to Europe just over a year ago. My wife and I were driving in France from Bayeux to Lievin and on the way, we stopped in the French village of Aumale. While walking around we discovered a market.  Meandering about the market we came across a table with croissants on it so my wife, salivating for one, asked if she could have one.  The lady at the table spoke no English but still understood what my wife had asked, so she responded with “Oui”.  Then the lady points to the coffee urn and says something in French looking at me.  Realizing that she was offering me coffee I excitedly said, “Oui” as I cherish my coffee. This pleasant, welcoming French lady then proceeds to pour my wife a juice.  The people of Aumale were most gracious and hospitable to us, the strangers in town. These wonderful villagers welcomed us with open arms.

ct-photos-eiffel-tower-in-the-french-flag-s-co-006Just before arriving in the wonderful village of Aumale, we were stopped at an intersection. Drivers around us were pointing at our vehicle so we immediately panicked presuming that we had done something illegal or that something was wrong with our vehicle.  Then one man gets out of his car, comes running up to our vehicle and says something in French while pointing down at the car door.  My wife who was driving at the time rolls down the window and to her horror discovers that her coat was hanging out the car door. This kind man had made the effort to alert us to our carelessness.  There are wonderful, caring people everywhere.

Sadly, this fear is spilling over into Canada. Mohsin Zaman of Edmonton, Alberta wrote a post on Facebook where he describes an incident that he personally experienced. He explains that a white male shouted at him, “You’re done, you brown hippie! Trump is going to send your ass home! Don’t matter if you’re in Canada. You just wait!”  I thought that this fear and hate would remain south of the border but I guess that was too much to hope for. It seems that ignorance is prevalent in Canada as well.

Global News reports that residents in the Toronto’s east-end found “ultra right wing” posters that urged white people “tired of political correctness” and “questioning when immigration will stop” to join an online movement. The signs had a headline that reads “Hey, WHITE PERSON” and asked, “wondering why only white countries have to become ‘multicultural’?” Sadly, Canada is not immune to Donald Trump’s rhetoric.

The late John Lennon once said,

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

bryant-mcgill-fear-love-choiceHis wife, Yoko Ono, once said, “The opposite of love is fear, not hate”. The Christian scriptures in 1 John 4:18  it says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.” Perhaps America needs to learn to love itself with all its diversity of people and its diversity of views.  It seems Canada may need to do the same. We Canadians need to remember the words of former Prime Minister (PM) of Canada and father of our present PM, the late Pierre Trudeau who said.

We must now establish the basic principles, the basic values and beliefs which hold us together as Canadians so that beyond our regional loyalties there is a way of life and a system of values which make us proud of the country that has given us such freedom and such immeasurable joy.

Pierre Trudeau’s vision was one of embracing our diversity. When a country (or person) fully accepts, embraces and loves who they are then people like Donald Trump have no power. What the United States needs is to learn is to love, not fear! Love casts out fear. Love is inclusive. It celebrates diversity. PLEASE don’t get “sucked into” Donald Trump’s toxic xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric. There is way more goodness and love in the world than what our American cousins, and apparently some Canadians think. Just check out some of the news on Good News Network and Good News website if you don’t believe me.