We each have a choice in how we impact the world. Sometimes it may not feel like we can do anything to change the world, but we can. Many small acts of kindness, a smile, a kind word, helping someone: these are all things that can have a butterfly effect; they can affect change for the better.
So think about that next thing you post on social media. Is it meant to divide? To cause hate? To sow discord?
Replace the words in those articles with words describing you. Instead of “Muslim” or “black” or “gay”, the someone foreign, put in “Christian” or “white” or “straight”, the someone familiar. Read it out loud that way. Think about it critically. Listen to the language. Does it hurt you? Does it cause pain in your heart? Can you see the negative impact it could have on others?
Then don’t post it. Don’t share it.
Don’t post or share hate. Don’t post or share things meant to divide us or pit us against one another.
There are 49 good, innocent people who died yesterday in my city, and 48 good, innocent people fighting for their lives, in a very premeditated, very heinous act of hate, because of hateful words spewed by hateful people led a small group of perpetrators to think that committing an act of terrorism against people worshiping their God in a place of peace was a good solution.
These people gunned down elders and children, men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, grandmothers and grandfathers. All due to the God these people worshipped.
I am left wondering: is one of the few Muslim graduates I’ve had study with us dead? Are their families okay? What about the lovely Afghani grandmother, or the mother, or the grandfather, or the children, the lovely, smiling, friendly people our neighbors welcomed into our neighborhood years ago as refugees, but have since moved? Are they okay? What about the smiling man who’s a taxi driver who is always saying hello to me when I walk by on my way to the grocery store? Is he alive? Is his family okay?
These people are our brothers and sisters. They are our neighbors, our friends, our families. All they want, like most of the rest of us, is to live in peace and to be happy. Is that too much to ask for? Because it shouldn’t be. And it’s not.
Hateful people spew hateful words against caricatures and broad generalizations of those different from them because they are afraid. Deep down, it is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of that which is alien to us.
Fear can be paralyzing, and fear can feel real. But we are stronger than fear.
I implore you, look for the familiar in others. Find the common ground. We all smile. We all love. We all laugh. We all want to be loved. We all have families, whether by blood, by choice, or by both. Push aside the differences that might scare you or make you uneasy, and embrace the better part of you, and in turn, embrace your fellow human.
Use your brain, your heart, your faith, your words, your actions, for good. Think critically about these things before moving on them.
Become a positive catalyst for the better world we all strive for.