Practice Compassion and Empathy, Not Fear or Hate

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As people, we generally want the same things. We want ourselves and our families to be safe. We want food, water, and shelter. We want the freedom to pursue our happiness and wealth as we see fit. These are fairly universal desires. The great tragedy of the human condition in the modern world is that we, for some reason, refuse to recognize that other people are just like us. Despite their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, geography, or other characteristic, people generally want the same things. While we want to be free to seek our own happiness, we continue to insist that everyone’s happiness must be identical to our own or it is illegitimate. This post is a simple recognition that we’re not all so different. We are human beings trying to accomplish the same things, and the only thing getting in our way is each other.

The problem with the world is not that things like feminism, Black Lives Matter, and other such movements exist. The real tragedy is that we have created a world in which these movements are necessary. It’s actually quite unbelievable when you think about it. As humans, we actually have the power to effectively create any sort of world we want. Scarcity of resources, wealth, and talent is a myth. There is plenty to go around; it’s just concentrated in all the wrong places and used in all the wrong ways. And yet, we decide instead to kill one another over trivial differences in opinion. We commit terrible atrocities in the name of security and create a universe of “us and them” that perpetuates that violates.

Rather than realizing that illegal immigrants are, like any other person, trying to find their way in life, we treat them like some sort of festering sore that needs to be removed. Rather than understanding that black people in America simply want the same treatment under the law that white citizens receive and giving it to them, we spend our time talking about the ethics of a football player not standing during the national anthem. We start national arguments over who can use which public bathroom, while the bathrooms in our own homes are always unisex.

What you need to understand is that your happy ending is not mutually exclusive of everyone else’s happy ending. The gay man down the street can marry his partner of choosing, and so can you. The black family across the street can receive the same mortgage rates that you do without it hurting you. If the person in the cubical next to yours uses the same bathroom as you, but you don’t know if they have the same body parts as you, it doesn’t hurt you. If the Mexican father gets a job as a server in a restaurant to help put his kids through school, then don’t sweat it. You’re not applying for that job anyway. Muslims can build a mosque right next to a church….right next to a synagogue….right next to a temple….and so on.

Stop treating people like they aren’t people, just stop it. You’ll find that it’s actually much easier than you think. Society and politicians have tricked you into thinking that there are all these problems that need to be solved and addressed, when in reality, the only problem is ourselves. Illegal immigrants? Just give them amnesty and legalize them. Gay marriage? Let them get married; why do you care? Pro life vs. Pro choice? They’re not forcing you to get an abortion, right?

When you begin to fall into the trap of fear, just remember that hatred begets hatred. Violence, terrorism, and the like do not exist in a vacuum. They are human inventions, responses to distress. They are bred and created, and they cannot be stopped with more violence. Respond to fear and hate with empathy and compassion. You think it’s harder, but as T Swift showed us, it’s quite easy to just shake it off, actually much easier than continuing to be angry and afraid.

5 Truths About True Love

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Too many people don’t understand what it really means to love somebody, and have them love you back. Movies and TV shows portray love as some insurmountable force that will succeed against all odds if you just give it a chance. The tale of star crossed lovers who are complete opposites meeting and staying together despite everything working against them is an all too familiar one. On the other side, there are all these “experts” who think they understand the exact steps you need to take to find a lasting relationship. The tragedy is that a lasting relationship isn’t always a loving one. I’ve seen very few people who I feel truly have this whole love thing figured out. After all those encounters, and on the cusp of my own marriage, I think I finally understand some things about it, and I want to share those few things with you.

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while now, but I always struggle to find the words to complete it. Love isn’t an easy thing to explain, but this is my shot, and I hope it helps you maybe figure some things out for yourself.

Love comes from inside yourself first. It is in fact true that you cannot love someone else unless you love yourself first. It’s even more true that you cannot accept someone else’s love unless you love yourself first. True love requires complete vulnerability, and I do mean complete. There can be no secrets, none at all. Your deepest darkest skeletons must be brought out into the light. Only then can you give yourself completely to someone else.

Finding love is hard. Being in love is easy. You will get hurt, many times over. Finding a mutually loving relationship is incredibly difficult, and it requires walking on coals. You must make yourself completely vulnerable over and over again, and be rejected over and over again. It’s difficult not to become damaged and try not to make the same “mistakes” again. Being vulnerable, though, is not a mistake. Imagine if everyone was more vulnerable and open; the world would be a much more loving place if people trusted each other. Once you find it, though, being in love is easy. Whoever tells you love is hard work is wrong. You shouldn’t have to work at a loving relationship, it should just happen. Of course you’ll have your fights, but those fights will not be about fundamental incompatibilities. Being in love is easy.

Love isn’t free. Building a life with someone else, which you will probably do if you fall in love, is costly. It is an investment in your happiness, and that investment costs time and money. Vulnerability includes financial vulnerability. If you’re not ready for that, it will be even more difficult for you to find true love. Get your shit together first, and then try to find that special someone.

Love is always forever. That doesn’t mean it always works out or overcomes all odds. Once you love someone, you can’t actually un-love them; it’s just not possible. You have completely seen someone and accepted them as they are; tell me how you can go back from that? Keep in mind, though, that love and hate aren’t mutually exclusive. You can hate somebody for something they did. Or, maybe your relationship didn’t work out for any number of other reasons. That doesn’t mean the love wasn’t real, and that doesn’t mean the love won’t always be real. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out, and you need to be OK with that.

Love does not involve sacrifice. Love does not involve you giving anything up. You should not have to change yourself, sacrifice your desires, or surrender what makes up you and your life. If you do find yourself having to do anything of that, then I’m sorry, but it isn’t love, and you need to admit it to yourself.