Of all the things that define you, who and what you love makes no difference to my opinion of you. It doesn’t matter to me whether you love God in the Judeo-Christian sense, or Allah, or Jehova, or any of the other myriad forms of higher power, whether recognized by an organized religion or just illuminated by the truth in your heart. If you don’t believe we all come from the same creator but evolved in a scientific fashion, I’m cool with that too. What you believe has no impact on my life, as long as you aren’t trying to force me to believe the same things you do.
To me, there isn’t a right or a wrong when it comes to love. You and your partner are not socks: you don’t have to be the same colour to make a good pair. I don’t care if you love a man or a woman, as long as you treat that person with respect and compassion. If half the energy folks spend opposing relationships they don’t agree with was invested in ending abusive and violent relationships, and in promoting healthy interactions between all people, life would change for so, so many human beings. Should you want to spend your life taking care of yourself and/or others rather than seeking a partner, I respect that decision too; after all, loving yourself by creating what you need in your own life is a commendable approach to the brief time we have on this planet.
What matters to me is whether you choose to hate.
Individuals who choose to spew hatred of others, which seems to be based so often on religion or on sexual orientation or on race, all highly personal and important factors, infect society with their enmity. I imagine humans as a whole bunch of strange fish, swimming along in an inescapable ocean. Imagine that a person who chooses to express hostility, especially about the stuff that shouldn’t matter, releases poison into our water. While the initial spread of the toxin only affects the creatures closest to the source, the fact is that the water forever contains poison because of the person who chooses to hate. It might slowly be diluted by the vastness of the ocean, but it never ceases to exist. Remember, getting out of the water is not an option for us. Eventually, the water becomes so contaminated by the venom of judgement and the toxic effects of hatred that all the fish are immersed in that vitriol, and cannot help but be harmed by it, even if they played no part in releasing it and even if they were not its original target.
Choosing to hate a particular group of people does not just affect you or those you hate. It has an impact on every other person swimming alongside you, and many miles from you, and your hatred will continue to impact the world we share long after you have gone belly up. Considering we live in a time where cars are so safe people walk away from accidents that would be been fatal only decades ago, and where illnesses that used to kill countless children before they were old enough for school have largely been wiped out, it astounds me that our species has not figured out a way to simply love one another. I am stunned by the fact we can drive a multi-million dollar vehicle on Mars (complete with video feed) and peanut butter has been outlawed in schools to protect children, but eradicating hatred, racism, and bigotry is not a priority. I would place a substantial bet that more young people take their own lives as a result of bullying and hatred in a year than die from exposure to peanuts. I am saddened by the fact “free speech” is more valued than how well we treat our fellow human beings, because it seems free speech is used as a weapon to break others down far more than it is employed as a tool to build them up.
I’m well aware I won’t change the minds of people who choose to hate by posting this piece. What might happen, and what I hope for, is that a person might think a little about the effects of the decision before releasing those toxins. Where hope truly lies is in the possibility that we start banding together as a species, as a cohesive group that decides it will no longer accept hatred or turn a blind eye to those who choose to poison all of us by spewing malice.
In the end, we’re all we have, and we all have to swim together.
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