I make this case in two questions and one bold assertion: What’s the problem? What’s the real, core problem? Allies are for love, not aggression.
I was upset when my friend told me how scared he was the night when the building alarm went off, knowing the police would be coming soon. Even though he had every right to be there, he was also black. He thought about his wife, and kids, and ran.
I was upset when I watched the videos from the refugee camps, where children are born into captivity, women are violated with impunity, and that life was still better than the life they left behind. They seek better lives, as would I. As would you, if you were in their place.
I have been questioned as an ally for lack of hate. Because I refuse to hate the police, my status as an ally with my black friends has been called into question. Because I refuse to hate our president, I’m told I don’t care about the harm he’s causing.
I understand that some cops have harmful beliefs and biases, but I also know cops who don’t. I understand that some laws are unjust, but I also appreciate the rest of them being enforced.
I understand that refugees are a resource burden to those who take them in, but I also know most people accept this burden gladly. I understand that governments fail, but I deeply appreciate the challenging effort to organize humanity.
I don’t see a war between good and evil, I see a grand collaboration being disrupted by fear.
It’s complicated, right? But people do change, and systems do too, over time. And by many measures of human belief and behavior, we are better today than ever before because of that change.
The important question is: how? How have we made progress, and how do we align ourselves behind its cause?
One thing we know for sure: It’s not through hate.
Hate is stupid. It requires very little effort to be angry, and direct that toward people as hate. Small children can become angry easily, a state that often leads to violent words and actions. My years at the Boys & Girls Clubs has taught me a valuable lesson: hate and anger are useless in resolving conflicts. Do you agree?
Hate is a lens that simplifies humans into being either good or evil. But we know it’s not that simple. Bullies were themselves bullied. We all have been polluted by past aggression and violence. Hate is the fuel, the momentum behind all cycles of violence.
So we agree, right? Don’t give into humanity’s badness. Don’t hate.
If not hate, what else could explain our progress in reducing injustice? How can we be allies without anger and hatred toward people causing harm?
What’s the real, core problem?
Hold on tight. From here, I want to expand “the problem” from one of racist tweets, murderous cops, and intolerant politicians. I’m also an ally for women. An ally for those with developmental and functional disabilities. I’m an ally for those fighting cancer, and those facing crippling depression. I’m an ally for the indigenous, the socially isolated, the young, and so many other victims of injustice and unfairness.
I’m an ally for myself, too. Just like money can’t buy you happiness, privilege doesn’t buy justice. I have my own gripes about how I’ve been treated.
“The problem” is larger than the identities behind which we rally, like cultures, religions, genders, and nationalities. All of these ideas obscure the single most important fact: humans are victims of other humans, and that’s true of all societies, everywhere.
I think our core problem is aggression in all its forms. Humanity has had a ruthless past, born from violent war between other humanoids millions of years in our past. When most sex was rape, most “others” were dangerous, and most health problems were terminal.
Today, things are different. Humanity has released itself from the shackles of survival. We now have ample resources, a bounty that far exceeds what is needed for everyone to enjoy long, happy lives. Aggression, anger, hatred… these are a heritage with no current value. In fact, they are now holding us back.
Our problem is aggression: it’s a problem between nations and within households. It happens between us when we argue, and within our minds when we try to change our beliefs and behaviors.
Aggression is the problem, and love has always been our solution.
But you knew that already, didn’t you? Love conquers all. God is love. Love is the answer. All you need is love. Love your enemies. Give peace a chance. Let it be. We already know the solution, we just keep forgetting it’s there for us to use.
Allies for love, against aggression.
The only thing that’s ever made this world a better place is love. Love is harder than hate, because it requires the full use of our brains. Love reminds us of our choices during those times when we want to be violent, to strike back, or run away. Rather, because of love, we stay together. We figure it out because of love. Love unites. It’s been the same message for thousands of years, carried forward in philosophy and religion, and trumpeted by our most esteemed champions of peace.
Love, not hate.
Thus, victims of injustice everywhere, know this: I will not hate your oppressor. I will not hate the systems that have caused you harm. I will not hate your enemies, and yet, I am your ally, and I stand by your side! We are united in love against hate, and that is how we’ll change people and systems for better.
You can tell if someone is an ally based on their love, not their hate. Let’s all be a little kinder to each other, and open the doors of love so that we can see that we are all connected, and that the core problem of aggression affects us all.
Love is what drives us to donate money to charities. Love is what pulls us out of the couch and into the marches. Love is what helps us overcome the fear that makes everything seem so bad. Behind every solution, every step forward together, every reduction of injustice, is love.
Love unites us. It is aligning us toward a sustainable, peaceful future. It brings joy into our lives, and purpose to our lifestyles. Let’s embrace it, and each other, and not falter as we make these next big steps forward together.
Try it! The next time you feel angry, find something to love.