Be the Positive You Want to See in the World

Politics & Policy

Hope vs. Hate / A Positive List for a Divided World


I’m often more troubled than I probably should be by hatred I see in others. This undeniably has to with recent upturn in speech about “white privilege” and “male privilege” and the amazing divisiveness that seems to be sweeping America. But it also has to do with the very real hatred and violence that persists despite all the stories we were told growing up about “the melting pot” of US cultures. Our pot has not melted, we are not united, and the chasm between us grows wider by the second.

When you go online in search of why people hate each other, you find not only ample ammunition to reinforce the belief that hatred is real, but also that everyone apparently hates everyone more than I ever realized. The problem is that you always find what you’re looking for, unless it’s socks. If you look for signs of cancer online, you’ll find you have stage-four diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (which is bad). If you look for signs of hatred online, you’ll find it in vast, expletive-ridden articles and posts from every end of every political spectrum. You’ll find hateful people, the people who hate them, and others who reconfirm their hatred based on the hatred shown in response to their original expressions of hate.

All of which is to make the obvious point that, if you look for hatred, rage, anger and bigotry, you will find it. This is in part because it is there to be found, and in part because the internet is an echo chamber that takes the loud and makes it louder while drowning out the calm whispers of kindness and love that we’re probably hoping to hear.

I think a lot about this in the context of black dolls. Growing up, many African Americans had to play with white dolls because that’s all there was. They had to buy white Barbie, watch white characters of television, and see an infinite pantheon of (exaggerated) white accomplishment and (alleged) black failure. The part of this that sticks with me in this context is that children who don’t believe they can be astronauts don’t grow up to be astronauts. The scope of your dreams is determined by the perceived boundaries of possibility; if there are no black dolls, then are black people not invisible? If there are no black heroes, than are black people not deprived of heroism?

And in exactly the same way, if are deprived of an alternative to hate online, is there any way to avoid amplification of the hatred that already exists in ourselves? I realize it’s a metaphorical leap, but lately I’ve felt that very deprivation as a gnawing discomfort. I want to believe that people can be good to one another, and thus I want to see evidence of it, articles about the positive or at least the possibility of it, maybe even a little joy because of rather than despite the true challenges of our nature.

I decided to go look for that goodness. I don’t mean Pollyanna-like blandishments or “can’t-we-all-just-get-along” desperation, but honest voices of those who are are woke but not broke.  There are real, structural problems that need to be addressed. The question is how we can address these issues without hating each other more than we already do.

What have a I found so far? Not a lot, honestly, but as I find things I’ll add them to the list below. Over time, I hope this page becomes a list of not just positive messages but also of evidence that the structural problems that push us into opposing camps are being addressed–and that it is therefore harder to justify hatred in the first place.

If you have ideas for this list, let me know.

Hope for Racial Unity

  • A Civil Rights Address by President John F. Kennedy in 1963:

    As I’ve said before, not every child has an equal talent or an equal ability or equal motivation, but they should have the equal right to develop their talent and their ability and their motivation, to make something of themselves.

  • Fuck You, White People” by Hina. I realize this may seem an odd piece to include here, but humor is often effective with difficult topics:

    If you disagree with anything I’m saying, it’s because you’re a racist. I’m going to use my free speech to shut down yours, so get in line and always be politically correct. And yes, all White People are a monolithic group, but don’t you dare say all Muslims are the same!

  • The Good News About Race and Crime in America” by Radley Balko on the Huffingon Post:

    Contrary to popular stereotypes, interracial killings are relatively rare in rural Deep South states, occurring at a rate well below the national average. Several crime experts agreed this rise reflects increasing social contact between Americans of different races occurring in many, but not all, communities.

  • The Positive News Ignored Amidst the Dreary” by Virgil Roberts:

    “In terms of particular groups in LA, African Americans think we are getting along “well or somewhat well” at 73%, Asians at 79%, Latinos at 72% and whites at 81%.”

  • I am NOT Black. You are NOT White” by Prince Ea:
  • I used to hate white people” by Sadot White:

    My anger towards people that hold tight to bigotry has changed to pity. I feel bad that they’re missing out on so much beauty in their lives because of a deeply irrational belief. We’re just frightened, sentient organisms living on a giant spinning rock, desperately seeking a purpose to our existence other than procreation and death.

  • Nobel Prize Lecture” by Dr. Martin Luthor King, Jr. I am loathe to place the words of such a visionary in mere alphabetical order, or merely quote him once, but it is a wonderful piece:

    “So we must fix our vision not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but upon the positive affirmation of peace. We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far superior to the discords of war. Somehow we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race which no one can win to a positive contest to harness man’s creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all of the nations of the world…”

  • There Is a War Over Race in America. But it’s not whites vs. blacks” by William Saletan:

    “In the case of jihadism, the real struggle isn’t between two religions. It’s between people who want religious war and people who don’t. The same is true of race: Either you’re on the race war team, or you’re against it.”

  • Have another suggestion? Let me know in the comments below.

Hope for Gender Unity

I’m having trouble finding substantive things to put here. It’s a mess out there.

  • Can we Please End the Gender Wars?” by A Ticket of Musings:

    Life isn’t a competition, believe it or not. Instead of whining, can we focus on the real issues at hand like poverty, raising children, & reducing sexual violence?”

  • Have another suggestion? Let me know in the comments below.

Hope for Political Unity

Coming soon…

  • Have another suggestion? Let me know in the comments below.

Proof that People Can be Wonderful

As this part of the list evolves, I hope it reminds us that–no matter what our political positions or affiliations, hardships or privileges–the human race can do some pretty amazing things when it stick together.

More coming soon…


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