Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Infection of Hatred

Here's how I'm looking at the state of affairs in the United States at the moment.

We have an infection. We collectively ignored it for too long. So it has gotten deeper under the skin than we had imagined, and it has formed an abscess. The bacteria that created the infection is hatred, and it entered our system through a wound created by fear. We've been told for so long to fear the other - the other color, the other religion, the other political party, the other gender, the other class, the other side of the tracks - that the words eventually broke through the skin of our collective consciousness.

As with any infection, when left untreated the patient can develop sepsis. According the Mayo Clinic, "the goal is to treat sepsis during its early stage, before it becomes more dangerous." Here are some of the symptoms of the early stages:
Heart rate higher than 90 beats a minute
Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute
Has anyone else been feeling like collectively things have been ramping up, that our hearts have been beating faster, or that we've had to remind ourselves to take slow, deep breaths? I think we have moved past the early stages of our infection.

Here are some signs that it has progressed to severe sepsis: Abrupt change in mental status, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart pumping function, abdominal pain. Sadly, I believe the patient can safely be said to have moved into a state of severe sepsis.

Again according the Mayo Clinic, "Most people recover from mild sepsis, but the mortality rate for septic shock is nearly 50 percent. Also, an episode of severe sepsis may place you at higher risk of future infections."

Here's the really wild thought that occurred to me. What if we wouldn't collectively have noticed the infection below the surface in time without the fever of hatred, the racing hearts of ugly words? What if we were so blind to the infection that this was the only way to draw our attention to the illness before it killed us?

So what do you do when there's an infection under the surface? One of the possible courses of action is to put a poultice on the skin to draw the infection out. What can we use to draw out the infectious bacteria of hatred? Well, a poultice works by using “substances that naturally exhibit drawing power.” What are people drawn to that is more powerful than hatred? The answer is simple but true; love. Say what you will, there is nothing more powerful than love, nothing that can more easily draw the attention away from fear. In the wise words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

The choice then that lies before us as a nation is clear, and it’s not about electing a president. It’s not up to the candidates, the pundits, or the media. It is up to each and every one of us in every interaction we have, every day. It’s a choice we can’t wait until November to make. We are already burning up with fever. We must choose now, will we choose to heal ourselves through love, or succumb to our infectious hatred?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Raised Voices

So here’s the thing, I’ve been listening to The Book Thief. It’s an excellent, powerful, heartbreaking story set in Nazi Germany. It’s interesting because the narrator is Death. I’ve never thought about how busy Death is during war, especially a war where people are dying not just on the front lines, but by the millions in concentration camps. Camps that were created because of leaders living out the hatred in their hearts, because of leaders living their false beliefs of superiority, because of leaders grouping whole religions or races together and labeling them good and bad, because of leaders without compassion, but also, and most frighteningly, because of people of compassion staying silent out of fear.

This is not the time to be silent in our country. There are people vying to be the leader of our beloved nation who have fear and hatred and bigotry in their hearts and it’s time we call it what it is. I can’t stand quietly by and wait until all that’s left for me to do is to try to save one or two lives from the suffering of unimaginable persecution. We must call a bully a bully now, we must point out racism and bigotry now, we must stand together now for what is good and just in our country, of which there is much. Most of all we must first root out of ourselves any bigotry or racism, any thoughts of superiority, any hatred, any fear, because make no mistake, these things are showing up in our country because they are showing up or have shown up in ourselves. We must look at our neighbors and see a reflection of ourselves. We can’t just turn away and say, they are uneducated, they are racist, they are hateful. We must find those things in ourselves and turn them out. Then offer our hand to our neighbors.

We must. Or else we may soon find that we can no longer recognize or live with ourselves.

In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” 

Let us be friends with raised voices. Now.