“Woke up this morning, I suddenly realised, we’re all in this together” – Ben Lee
In the age of connectedness, it seems our world has fractured, and is drifting further and further apart.
Whether it’s our politics, our heritage, our religion, or even our love; we are choosing to use the differences that make us human as reason to disconnect and pit ourselves against one another.
Whether it’s a label we pin to our chest, or one that others stick on our back, our differences are being used as a crux for mistreatment, divide, and hatred.
From the highest positions of power in politics, to conversations on the street, we’re choosing to ignore what ties us together, and are focusing instead on using our differences to divide us, and creating a world of chaos and hatred as we do so.
Left, Right. Liberal, Green. Gay, Straight. Religious, Atheist. Native, Immigrant.
We are being told that it is always one side against another. That any small difference is reason enough to turn on one another.
Instead of listening and learning, we take a single look at someone’s label and use it as an excuse for us to hate.
You don’t need to be spiritual to see that spreading hate into the world doesn’t produce a healthy body or mind.
It won’t help you achieve your endeavours, nor will using it as a tool for division help your cause, your beliefs or your ideas grow and flourish.
This hatred is spreading at a rapid rate, and it is infecting every part of our world.
We have television shows with the sole premise of tearing down public figures.
We have individuals achieving fame and notoriety through hating and being hated.
Reality shows that gain their viewership by having personalities that producers know the public will despise.
We have pages on the internet, on Facebook, on Twitter, where we can come together to share our hatred for any and every person, place and thing.
Being in the public eye (or even not), seems to be reason enough to be the target of hate.
With the connectedness we have been afforded, comes with it the ability to link up with people around the world who help to fuel our anger, as if spreading this hatred is somehow validated simply because someone else shares the same opinion.
The sheep effect helps this seem like a right, as if mimicking another’s actions somehow makes it acceptable.
Sure, it can get you a paycheck, it can get you some retweets, some likes, and some followers, but is that really justification enough?
Since when did revelling in hatred become the main goal of what we are here to do in life?
We have divided our world into such small subsections of society, that anyone who doesn’t fit our ideals is often met with anger and spite.
And in the race to hate more, we have left behind who we are at large. We don’t see ourselves as humans, or even as Australians. We are our labels first and foremost. We’re a world divided.
It can’t be ignored that the world can’t keep going down this path – to continue to hate and divide at this rate.
If we do, we will reach a breaking point and will tumble off into the chaotic abyss.
What if we were just to stop and take a moment to look at ourselves and our lives. Will this hatred and division be something we can sit on our deathbed and be proud of?
Is it a goal in life to have hurt and attacked the most people before your time is up?
To revel in riches or success with a path of destruction and grief as the stepping stones left behind?
Whether it’s a fact of life, or just a sad truth, no one is immune from these feelings.
We as humans are prone to feelings of jealousy and envy, of hatred and anger, all throughout our lives.
No matter what we say, or what we do, we will always have that little person on our shoulder who is the first one to whisper cruel, hurtful things about other people – or even about ourselves – in our ear.
However, whilst we may not be able to stop these thoughts, the power we do have is complete and total control over what we do with these thoughts.
What sets us apart is what we choose to do next.
Our actions, if repeated enough, become our habits. And our habits become who we are.
So, we can choose to open our mouths and let the vitriol begin, or
We can stop and think about what we say to someone’s face, and what we do and promote online.
We can think about what our words really mean, and the impact they can have not just on our victims, but on ourselves.
Having negative thoughts doesn’t make us bad people, nor does it make us slaves to hatred.
It can be easy to give into, yes, but we are the only ones that have complete control over how we choose to live our lives.
We choose what comes out of our mouths, and what we bring into the world.
It can be easy to be the ‘mean one’, but it takes courage and strength to be the bigger person and be a point of positivity in an increasingly negative world.
When it comes to the ‘mean’ side of the world, and proving that it isn’t a trait that we are simply born with, it doesn’t get more succinct than Gabrielle Union’s description of moving on from her cruel and malicious past.
Speaking to Oprah on her ‘Next Chapter’ TV show in 2013, Union discusses what opened her eyes to the effects of her words, and thus her conscious shift away from being a ‘mean girl’.
Gabrielle Union: “I think nowadays there is this celebration of ratchetness. You’re supported in tearing other people down. There is a forum for it and there is a huge spotlight on you to do that.
People asked, how did you move from being a mean, vindictive, hateful person who couldn’t be happy for other people to embracing and truly being supportive?
Really, it came down to we were in a room, we were at a party and I was holding court because I can turn a phrase and be slick myself, and I was trashing somebody. Ripping them to shreds head to toe.
Then AJ (Union’s life-coach) pulled me aside and she said, ‘Now, how did your life change? Did you get the guy? Did you get the job? Is your house any bigger? Did money magically get put in your pocket? What positive happened in your life after you just tore that woman down?
Other than you’ve just put out all this negativity in the world and this woman whose power you wanted to take away, you’ve actually just empowered her by speaking of her for the hour that you were, but you gain nothing you look like a hater now, everyone has left you thinking what a hateful little turd that you are”
Now I thought Ms Union’s dance routine at the end of Bring It On would be the greatest thing she ever did for this world…until I saw this.
It can be hard not to give into the hatred, and spread negativity. It’s often our default emotion and can be so easy to fall back onto.
But not everything easy is good, and not everything good is easy – so it is up to us to bite our tongue, to think for that tiny fraction of a second longer, and to be, act, and speak into existence the world we want to be a part of.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
In the split-second it takes us to open our mouths or post something online, we can shatter the world of someone else.
There are stories in every corner of our world of the deterioration of mental health as a direct result of hurtful words or online posts.
With something as simple as words, we can negatively impact the lives of people to the point that they would rather die than live with this hatred.
We fight fire with fire, and lash out before we can be hurt first.
But as Ms Union said, in what way will your life improve from tearing down someone?
Taking away a rich man’s money will not make a positive change in the life of someone poor.
Taking away the rights of one will not liberate another.
And cutting someone down, will not bring you up.
Change comes from positive action, and working as one.
Because at the end of the day, no matter what labels are affixed to our foreheads, whoever we are, and whatever we do, in the end it all seems so simple – we’re all humans, and we’re all here in this together.
No-one is born racist, no-one is born homophobic, no-one is born misogynistic – these are learned behaviours from the world around us.
We’re born a clean slate, without hatred in our heart.
All here, trying to make sense of the same world.
To find our way, to find love, and to find happiness.
And who are we to take that away from someone?
To make their lives less in the hopes of making more of ours?
Our culture of tearing one another down, of trying to silence each other, has a very short lifespan.
Longevity lives in removing these man-made barriers, and healing our planet.
It starts with each of us, and we have everything we need inside of ourselves.
So, if every once in a while, we took a step back, collected ourselves, and reassessed what we are all here to do, perhaps then we could all help each other in achieving our goals, instead of stepping over each other to get what we want.
The world is big enough for all of us, and all of our dreams.
Yet small enough that it takes all of us working together to keep it going.
There are enough resources to help all those who need it.
When we band together, the world flourishes, and happiness grows.
And an attack on another person or group, is an attack on the one world we share.
Burning bridges and tearing down one another leaves the world in ashes.
The hatred in our world feeds on the negativity we alone allow into our lives, and we are the ones who can drive it out.
But nothing is forever, and we can rebuild our lives and our world whenever we so choose.
But it takes all of us, together as one.
A world with less hatred, and more love…
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope one day you will join us. And the world will be as one”
– John Lennon