I struggle with what to write here day to day… because there’s so much atrocity and nastiness up in this country right now. Where do you even start?
But I struggle for other reasons, too. One of them is because I feel like we all talk around some of the most basic, fundamental things that are connected to why things that are going on in the US seems atrocious, nasty, mean, and intolerable.
We talk around our humanity. But it’s more than that.
We talk around love.
If you talk about love in politics, people seem to think you’re either being some kind of hippie dippy utopian dreamer, or overly religious. And in theory, religion doesn’t belong in politics — except that it’s a huge political force, and not necessarily for love.
We could talk more about loving humans in other ways, though. We could talk about taking care of people because it’s part of our humanity, our morality, and our values.
We talk a bit about being able to love who we love — as partners. Like as in who we can legally marry. Whether we can marry a person with similar melanin, or a person of the same gender, or a person with no gender at all, or whoever we are.
But there’s way more to all of this love stuff than marriage and partnership.
There’s more to it like in how we’re running the whole damn society… yet I’m not convinced that loving humans is at the center of much of it at all.
Shouldn’t it be?
Aren’t we angry about how people are being treated in a million circumstances because we love humans? Aren’t we angry that kids have to hide under their desks in school so they don’t get shot because we love kids? Aren’t we livid that black people continue to be shot by law enforcement because we love people?
The lists go on and on and on and on. How much of our ire and frustration with what’s not okay out there is because of loving humans?
As far as that goes, the Democratic Party’s agenda is anchored in values that speak to this love, too, but we don’t say it out loud. Maybe it would help if we did.
Meanwhile, the current Republican party and its media cry foul loudly and obnoxiously against what they call “wokeness.” They demonize it… as if it’s the worst possible thing of all the things.
Isn’t “wokeness” about loving people?
Isn’t “wokeness” about embracing humans? Accepting people for who they are? Advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion across our society… after decades and centuries of violence, inequality, oppression, and injustice? “Wokeness” is also about science, education, and accurate history… all of which are meant to help us honestly see who we are, and to do better as a society. To learn and grow and evolve.
The Republican party, politicians, and media advocated loudly against public health measures to mitigate covid-19 spread; especially against our most vulnerable people. They still do. They publicly diss any attempt to mitigate virus spread to any protected group. Doesn’t matter how many hundreds of thousands have died; or picked up complications or long covid as a result. They don’t even care if it’s Republicans who are dying or getting ill. You can’t value the lives of humans in general if you don’t even value your own.
Another example: Floridians are considering “whether to require all high school athletes to disclose their menstrual history.” How is this something that Americans would even think is okay to consider, or to talk about? Why on earth do teenage girls need more trouble than they already get in a highly confusing time in their lives… and at the same time that they might not even be allowed to get an effective education about what their periods even are? How is this creepy assault and invasion of privacy during such a sensitive time in girls’ lives something we would even consider doing to them? What fears and struggle would come with it? The hostility up in this country is such that it’s hard to tell if this kind of insane consideration is being pushed in Florida because anti-abortionists want to control girls’ bodies, or because people are afraid of the very rare trans girl, or what?
The Overton window is so far to the far-right it’s unbelievable.
I remember watching the shock in society in the 1980s… as media and entertainment started to become less lily-white and get a bit more diversity. I couldn’t figure out what on earth all the fuss was about. Now that the pushback against all diversity is spectacular, I’m straight-up shocked.
I still don’t understand the racism; I never will. I don’t get the misogyny; despite a lifetime of running headlong into it. I don’t get the anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry, or the anti-Semitism, or any of it. Doesn’t mean I’m all fully “woke” myself. But I have had a life of learning, openness, and living all over the place. I’ve learned and loved and made friends and worked with people from all over the US and all over the world.
I don’t get the intolerance.
It’s worse than that, though. There’s so much hate. There’s incredible, willful disrespect. There’s wishing suffering on others. There’s selfishness. It’s beyond a lack of empathy — there’s a fair bit of sadism. There’s straight-up cruelty. And that’s on top of the meanness, bullying, hostility, and threats.
Why? Why do so many people think it’s okay to wish ill and suffering on other humans? I don’t get it.
I especially don’t get it when these hateful folks say it has something to do with religion. They are inevitably self-proclaimed “Christians.” Yet I could swear that the inspirational guy behind that whole religion said that we’re supposed to just love people. Hell, he also talked about living lives of service and simplicity, too. I’m not sure how all that gets missed, too, but I will say — religion aside — I like his key point about loving people.
It doesn’t seem like that should be so damn complicated… no matter what your religion. Or your politics.
In what ethos or morality would we not strive collectively to love people? To take care of humans?
I think that if we’re serious about doing that that we have GOT to do a better job of saying so.
Honestly, we sort of collectively suck at advocating for taking care of people. For just accepting people. For embracing each other as fellow humans.
Obviously that’s not always true… but I would argue that the fact that the right-wing extremists have pushed the Overton window so very, very far to the right and into intolerance, hatred, bigotry, and sadism says that maybe the opposite perspective needs to get WAY louder.
I don’t know the answer, but I do know we need to fight and advocate differently.
I reckon part of that is or could be talking about how we could or should love humans.
How do people argue against that?
If you take it down to that core, basic thing… what is the argument against?
I don’t know what that’s going to look like as we ramp up this new nonprofit here, but I reckon we’ll be talking more about this. Our Thing 4 is to champion vision, values, and moral courage. This is part of that, I think.
Do you have ideas? Let us know.
Our starter approach is to set up more Zoom calls with volunteers to figure out how to do more of the 5 Things, at larger scales, and by building on a lot of the existing stuff out there. We’ll announce those Zoom calls here on Substack.
We need to go bigger collectively, we need bigger alliances, and we need to get louder. Lots of ways to do that.
Join us, and let’s chart out new paths for how we get shift done. Volunteer here. Donate here or on ActBlue.
Behind this entire set of work is this idea: the direction this country is headed in is not okay… because the current direction deliberately misses all of the things about how we should love humans, how we should be taking care of each other, and how we can love the planet, too.
How do we shift the direction we’re headed in to something that reflects more of what we truly, deeply value… and what we want for the people we love?
That’s what this nonprofit is here to do. I think we can.
So let’s do it.
If you’re in, help us get going… and help spread the word. We’re going to need way more people, and all the groups. Time to get moving.
Yah. All of this. I hate the trite statement that the "conservative" side is out to "own the libs." But I think we've let them do just that as it applies to "love." You know, "What the world needs now...." The Democrats are so *bad* with messaging and defining the argument. They are *always* playing catchup after the Republicans have gotten out front. If we don't figure out how to start explaining Democratic policies in terms that make it obvious that the policies are about loving people--all people--we don't stand a chance against the anger and vitriol of the other side. Because anger and vitriol fire them up. We let the Republicans fire their base up time and again. And seldom do we counter with the truth. No Christian" am I, but I also believe that--radical as he was--Jesus' primary message was to love one another. Most days in most ways, what I see coming from the other side is as far from love and Jesus' message as it could possibly be. And yet we have allowed the Republicans to claim his mantle for what Christianity represents. So let's figure out how to take back that mantle. Let's figure out how to spread the word of love as a celebration of valuing each and every individual. Let's figure out how to love those whose ideas and ideals are diametrically opposed to ours. Let's find our common humanity. If we do that, we will unearth a foundation of love--and maybe, just maybe, we can begin to Shift the Country.
You pose the Great Questions eloquently, as always. Can humans learn to behave without a sword-brandishing god or dictator or Big Brother to control us? I've been trying to figure this out since I was in single digits. You have disturbed my torpor and I fear I will have to attempt to address your queries in prose. Meanwhile, here's a hint of my views:
In my drop of vapor
wrapped in the fog -
silent, at peace,
with a strain of music -
a delicate bird song
somewhere in the distance
not warm, not cold
safe, without fear -
no evil, no pain,
for only a second
only beauty and the richness of beauty -
I wonder at my own good fortune
and the hurt creeps in
the hurt for victims,
but even more,
the hurt for those
who have not had beauty,
nor love, nor peace,
and are consumed with pain and anger
from their want
whose only relief is to do harm -
to destroy that which they cannot have -
whose only solace from fear
is to frighten -
whose only defense
is a weapon
bereft of love,
they cringe at the sight of it
and protect themselves with hate.