On national radio every day I hear fears about homegrown terrorism, Isis- and other radical religion-related atrocities; ongoing and always marginalization and ruination of aboriginal peoples and everything they have left on earth. On alternative news sources: murder by those in positions of authority, murder, torture and rape excused because the victims were voiceless or nameless. I hear about environmental and human devastation caused by the same corporations that also control the economy in the affected areas. Everywhere. Crimes against humanity. But it's news, we say - did we expect it to be positive?
For entertainment we get "reality", where "real" humans fight each other for viewers' support, or for hard-won praise from cruel and obnoxious judges who swear, belittle, ridicule, cut people off mid-performance, break dishes and spit out food. Or how about the mainstream drama that isn't entertaining without some form of visceral brutality, whether it be bloody gore, social or physical domination, emotionally fraught nastiness that at once demeans us as humans and makes us hate each other.
Yes. Hate. Each other.
In the smallest and the most brutal ways.
The latest hot-button hate issue in my feeds is vaccines. The pro-vaxxers vs. the anti-vaxxers. Never mind all those unvaccinating pro-vaxxers and vaccinated anti-vaxxers, and the large number of people just caught up in the hate game, posting vicious memes and catchy sarcastic "quotes", even though they know nothing about the issue. But when they've run out of juice they transfer the hating to whatever fashion trend is currently unpopular. Just pick a topic and start making threats and accusations. It's an easy game.
I'm mad. I'm mad at us all. I'm mad that we're letting hate grab us by the throats and throttle us. I'm so mad that I feel mad about this! So disappointed in myself.
I told myself that the next time somebody got angry with me, I would respond with love.
That was years ago. I keep on trying. I keep on failing.
I imagine myself like a cool wall of water, and let the hate hit me and flow away. But secretly on my side of that wall of water there is a little girl saying "stop it!" "that's not true!" "don't be mean to me!" and "help!" Until my words come bubbling up through the water and I have responded. Given time, and a keyboard, I can mediate my response to make it positive, but in person that doesn't happen. Either I start some accusations of my own, or I cry. Both just as harmful.
It's easy to be compassionate. I can see reasons to love anybody at all. It's reasons to love myself that are hard to come by, and when I'm feeling vulnerable, like when my family members are angry with me, that self-love crumbles, and I end up saying things I've heard in the media. I listen to a lot of music, so the lines usually come out of angry rock songs and bitter murder ballads. Yes, I'm admitting this. It's embarrassing.
We all emulate what we experience.
We all emulate what we experience.
So I wonder: if our media was all compassionate - and I don't mean hiding the facts or putting a glossy sheen on everything, but compassionately presented in a way that honoured and valued all people - how would our reactions begin to change? We're all going to get upset. We're all going to be hurt and get angry and feel terribly terribly weak and helpless. But if we surrounded ourselves with people and media that were accepting and loving... then perhaps we could find it in ourselves to feel strength instead of fear, create healing instead of injury;
love instead of hatred.