We all suffer when someone allows themselves to be consumed by hate. Or hating on others just a little. Or being mean spirited instead of coming from that loving space we all have inside us, if we so choose.
I’ll leave the pontificating about what should or shouldn’t be done to prevent the kind of tragedies that happened in Buffalo, New York on Saturday to others . Frankly, I’m too old and weary to scream at the top of my lungs about racism like I did in the late 1960s and 70s.
After blabbering here for years about the Buffalo Bills and love for my native roots in Western New York, I’m finally at a loss for words. There is a feeling of deep sadness words cannot convey. Part if it is realizing as an old person, we’ve done so little with regard to minimizing the devastating result of hatred.
I’ve often joked about wanting to be remembered after I die by four words… “I told you so” … truth be told I’d rather be remembered as a leader (yes, even as an ex-pat Buffalonian) in our Western New York community as a person who lived a life believing that LOVE is the only answer for whatever happens in life.
You can choose to love instead of hate, but it requires rigorous honesty. Hate manifests itself inside people in ways we often do not want to admit. My experience as a psychotherapist over the years suggests most people aren’t willing to be totally honest in their self assessments.
Some wisdom I’ve learned along the way involves taking accountability when choosing to be in a hateful state of mind instead of coming from the loving spirit that exists within all of us. There are those who will say “some people are pure evil”.
We all are born with the capacity to choose love.
A large stumbling block to engaging our capacity to love happens because many people live their lives on ‘autopilot’… as if any state of mind controls us, rather than vice-versa. If you’re mad, sad, glad or bad… it’s because you CHOOSE to stay in that emotional state.
Even people with severe post-traumatic stress can teach themselves how to control responses to triggers. The triggers may always be there, but using a technique called cognitive re-framing, a person can learn to overcome the devastating effect of past trauma.
My point is that we can all do a better job filtering our self-talk and asking ourselves why we are choosing to be hateful or mean spirited at any particular moment. It’s a lifelong challenge to be rigorously honest with ourselves when we are feeling those nasty feelings. It’s a daily struggle for all of us, myself included.
We each have roles to play in society and the messages we send out to others are like ripples in a pond in terms of how they spread. If you are resentful and angry, ask yourself why. And then ask yourself if you’re truly being honest or making excuses.
There are ALWAYS excuses (aka/reasons) why we feel the way we do. But it’s only those with personal integrity who are willing to admit how they are part of the problem instead of the solution who will be the true agents of change in our society.
We end up with hateful people doing hateful things because many of us refuse to open up our hearts and our minds to the notion that any society is a reflection of a cumulative state of mind. If we allow the mean spirited side of ourselves to rule how we think, we end up teaching our children to become as behaviorally lazy as we are.
I leave this post with a grieving heart for the city of Buffalo and our loving ‘BuffaloFAMbase’. My solace during these times is music. About to head out the door and put Goo Goo Doll’s “Let Love In” on repeat mode, go for a walk and pray for the families who lost precious loved ones at the hands of a young man filled with hatred.
Love IS the answer… the only answer.
Editor’s babble: My deepest condolences for everyone grieving the horrible loss of life because of another person filled with hate.