Today I accidentally read some of the comments on an article about what I hope will be the demise of Trump. I have scrubbed and scrubbed and I still feel filthy. They make me angry. They make me despair. They are misogynistic, racist, xenophobic. They are a snapshot of the worst that humanity can be.
And that, right there, is what is killing us. Politicians like Tony Abbott, Pauline Hanson, and Donald Trump take us down. They foment all of the worst that we are, and brew it up into a sick and feverish storm of hatred and misery. Which often works. It got Abbott elected. I hope with all my heart it won’t get Trump elected, but at least until a few days ago it was looking all too plausible. I want to believe the chances have dropped, but he’s bloody good (by which I mean evil) at what he does.
There are too many ways in which we allow the world to take us down now. To reduce us to the lowest common denominator. The fear of otherness is whipped up into demands that Muslims should be locked out of our country for our own protection – notwithstanding the ones who were born here, and who are in fact in more danger because of all this fear than we “normal” “safe” Caucasians. No, Muslims are different, and therefore a threat.
Speaking as someone who has always been a little different, one way or another, I find that chilling.
So instead of reading about Trump, and Hanson, and others of their evil, demoralising ilk, I am increasingly turning to the people who inspire others, just by being themselves. They, too, are different, and that is immensely heartening.
I have a close friend who is vegan, because she wants to reduce her impact on the planet. She doesn’t talk about it much, and certainly doesn’t impose her beliefs on others. Where vegan food isn’t available she will go vegetarian without fuss. But she is busily making thoughtful, ethical decisions. She inspires me to think more about the impact of everything I do.
I have another friend who would be exceedingly cross with me for writing about him, so I shall endeavour to be vague enough that he remains safely anonymous. But he is an extraordinary inspiration. His work, his friendships, and much of his play are all focused on making the world a better place. He tries to think about the impact of everything he does. Wherever possible he chooses the companies he deals with by considering the ethics of their behaviour. If he sees a situation that needs fixing he damned well fixes it, if he possibly can. More often than not if he can’t do it alone he will mobilise the rest of the world to get it sorted. If he sees someone who needs help, he helps them. He feels a deep need to give back to the world. And the beauty of this is not just in the immediate impact of what he does. It’s in the way his behaviour changes the people around him. The ripples of his actions spread across the world. I am a better person for knowing him.
I have another friend who fosters guide dog puppies. She cares for them, loves them, bonds with them for a year, and then has to say goodbye. It’s brutal, but it’s crucial. How could guide dogs be provided to the blind if someone didn’t love them and care for them while they were puppies? We’re all pretty good at leaving things like that to “someone else”. This friend has stepped up to be that someone. Plus she posts pictures of the puppies online, which is a whole wave of positive energy right there.
A student of mine thought I was a little down last week, so he bought me a sonic screwdriver necklace to cheer me up. What is Trump against that sort of kindness and empathy?
I’ve written about people like this before – they are the sparkly people who polish the souls of the rest of us just by being nearby. They catch us when we fall. They lift us higher than we could rise alone. I could write about the good people in my life 24 hours a day 7 days a week and not be finished in a year.
I think we need to spend more time talking about people like this, and less time listening to Trump and his corrosive ilk. Because even in disagreeing with Trump, even in ranting about how foul he is, he is taking us down. We are focusing on foul, stinking hatred. And I think it’s time we focused on love. Research has shown that being thankful positively changes your brain chemistry – so what impact do you imagine hatred has?
So let’s write about people helping each other. Let’s talk about the people who love and support us. Let’s be thankful for the good things in our lives. Research has shown that being thankful positively changes your brain chemistry , and even your health – so what impact do you imagine hatred has?
Lately I’ve been posting my thankful things to Facebook every day. And maybe some people find it mawkish or overly sentimental. I post political stuff too. I certainly get angry a lot – about injustice and cruelty, mostly. But there’s a lot of good in the world, too. I think maybe it’s time we started paying more attention to all the love.