Darkness and Light, Hate and…Letting Go

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

– Martin Luther King Jr

We are admonished to “love thy neighbor” – especially the ones who are most difficult to love. It is a challenge, especially at this point in an election year. It’s a wonder the Facebook Block button hasn’t broken. I no longer think of blocking someone as ending a friendship; sometimes, it’s a last ditch effort to salvage one. But, as I said, last week, “I’m tired of playing nice in the spirit of ‘gee, can’t we all just get along?’ More accurately, I’m tired of playing nice with others who refuse to.” Doesn’t mean I hate them; hate requires more effort than some people are worth. But “love” requires digging deep for inner resources I am lacking.

It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.

– Anne Frank

Anne writes this less than a month before the Nazis arrest her and her family, sending them all to the concentration camps, where Anne, her sister, and her mother later die. If there is an afterlife, I wonder, does Anne still believe that people are truly good at heart?

I don’t know that believe it. I want to believe it; certainly, I try to believe it, at least of those I love and like.

“People fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer.”

― Andrew Smith

I do think the worst of human behavior has its roots in fear and anxiety. Hatred, itself, must surely stem from fear and anxiety, as well. Bullies are the biggest cowards of all.

“I don’t understand why when we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something created by nature we call it progress.”

― Ed Begley, Jr

Maybe this is what lies at the root of out frenetic industry – the need to tame, control, or annihilate the wilderness, because it is vast and scary and we don’t understand it. Some despise it outright; some think it’s all cute and cuddly and forget that it has teeth. I’ve thought about this a lot, lately, on my morning and evening walks in the park. I love the stillness of the lake and woods, unbroken by human conversation, or interrupted by the bass beat of hard rock playing on a runner’s iPod, or shattered by the barking of boisterous dogs. I love the smell of grass and cedar and the warm sun unlocking the damp odors of the soil, unbroken by the wafting aroma of man-made cologne. I love the sparkling glint of sunlight, the reflection of cumulus clouds, and the impossible blue of sky and lake, unbroken by floating bits of man-made, discarded debris or the puttering and spluttering of a motorboat. I don’t much mind a father teaching his son to fish with a pole at the water’s edge. I’m grateful for the well-kept, narrow strip of hot asphalt that hides no venomous snakes. Now and then, I do want to listen to music – my choice of it, to help me keep a healthy pace – quietly, in my own ears. I’m happy to have a place to park my car or to answer nature’s call – out of her sight. There’s a balance, there, and when we tilt the scales too far, either way, all’s not right with the world.

Is it always right to drive out the darkness? I still miss the stars at night, but I’m grateful for having just enough lighting at the park to feel safe taking a walk even after the sun goes down.

Is it always necessary to drive out hate? Surely we can’t be expected to indiscriminately love everything and everyone, but we can be expected to follow the Golden Rule. Isn’t it the ultimate in hypocrisy to judge and criticize others, yet refuse to hear about our own shortcomings? To hate, yet expect to be loved? To demean, yet expect to be admired and followed as a leader?

Consider Luke 6:37-38:

37Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

It’s too easy to say, “Don’t judge.” Period. People who say this often mean, “Don’t judge me.”  It doesn’t mean they’re not judging you, every chance they get. And when people say, “I don’t judge,” I can’t help but wonder if they are being sanctimonious – announcing their (attempted) adherence to scripture, or if they have lost the ability to discern good from bad or right from wrong? Have their brains turned to mush? Are they able to make even the simplest decisions? Pizza or ice cream? Hot shower or cold? It is more reasonable, more possible, I think, to say, “Don’t judge others by different standards than those you set for yourself, or by those you’re willing to be judged by – by others.” Luke continues:

41Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? 42How can you say, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while you yourself fail to see the beam in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

And also, Matthew 7:1:
1Do not judge, or you will be judged. 2For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
I wonder if that’s why some of us, having been less than diligent with email organization and retention, are less likely to hold Hillary Clinton’s email scandal against her now that it’s been investigated and she’s been found careless but not criminally negligent. It chills me to the bone to think it may be why so many men are quick to defend Donald Trump’s “locker room talk” and other allegations of sexual misconduct.

#FridayReflections

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Prompts for this week:

  1. What did you want to be when you were a kid?
  2. Did you think you’d be doing what you’re currently doing in life? Write a personal essay.
  3. What has really made a big change in your life?
  4. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr – Use this quote in your post or to inspire your post
  5. Picture Prompt (copyright everydaygyaan.com )

friday-reflections-14-october-2016

 

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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8 thoughts on “Darkness and Light, Hate and…Letting Go”

    1. I like darkness; can’t sleep well if there’s any light at all in my room. But the metaphorical darkness – darkness of the soul, perhaps – is not so gentle or soothing. All things in balance.

      I wonder, sometimes, if we’ll ever tire of fighting EVERYTHING. The war on drugs, the war on women, the war on men, the war on smoking, the war on war, the war on stupidity… if we ever will tire of the notion that someone has to LOSE, in order for us to WIN.

  1. Lots of stuff to think about especially liking people you really hate. I think it’s unnatural to expect people to be large hearted and love those they can’t stand .

    1. One could argue that, in order to be more like God, one must do “unnatural” things – or at least very extraordinary things. Or one could argue that religion is crazy-making. I think it’s a laudable goal – to “love your neighbor as you love yourself” (then again, there are a lot of messed-up, self-loathing loonies out there, so maybe we should all try to love our neighbor a bit better than we love ourselves, just to be on the safe side). I admire people who can, but I’m no saint – it’s a struggle. I’m not there, yet.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Breaking My Profile

  2. Very thoughful and candid post. Is is definitely difficult for us to drive out all the hatred and the darkness from within us….You look at darkness differently here and I liked it…..The necessity for peace amidst all the hullabaloo of life…..Your last bit is also a food for thought…..When we ignore, or let go of those follies that are not so easy to forget, are we in reality trying to protect our own fallen selves…..Great point there….Loved your write-up.

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