I'm not one to follow the news and world events. Unlike my father, I'm not the kind of person who wakes up early to check the stock market or who sits down to dinner with the 6 o'clock news. In general, I don't trust the media. Somehow, we seem to have arrived in a day and age where anyone with enough money can make completely outrageous claims without a lick of evidence and broadcast it all over television, internet and radio. Why? Because it's sexy: it promotes drama, or spreads fear, or encourages hate, or lifts one group up at the expense of another. Finding a balanced media source is becoming harder and harder, and often times those who strive to produce researched and reviewed material are given the last row on the bookshelf because their material isn't sexy: it doesn't make sweeping statements about minorities or interest groups because, lets face it, life just isn't that simple; and because love and equality simply aren't sexy.
So I've been looking to new sources of information -- you. I've been reading blogs and peer reviewed articles and the UK's well researched view on the occupy movement and I'm moved by all the dissension happening in the nation, because I have been feeling it for a long time. But the more I read about various subjects, the more I feel they have their root in once place -- the inability to love others, which stems from an inability to truly and unconditionally love ourselves.
We all want to feel good. No, that's not quite right. We all want to feel joy. And not just in fleeting moments: we want to experience sustained joy. In fact, you could say that sustained joy is the purpose of life. Think about it, everything else we do, from religion to teeth brushing to surfing on a Sunday afternoon is because we hope it will give us more sustained joy. But I think that we often are confusing the feeling of joy with the feeling of an ego boost, and in doing so are hurting others, spreading fear and propagating hate.
It's easy to see this lately as large religions have conflict after conflict, with lives lost. Both sides are trying to spread their world view, their religion, their ideals and values. Why? Because, at the end of the day, both sides believe it will bring them more sustained joy (on this planet or in the afterlife). Using violence, hate and fear to get what you want never brings joy -- it may bring a short boost in the self-esteem, one that is quickly lost when the battle is over. The need to perpetuate violence and hate towards others stems from a lack of love for the self -- if you truly loved yourself, you wouldn't need to put anyone down, in the name of God or anything else.
Putting others down for the short ego boost that occurs happens every day in our communities, and it's easy to turn your head away. I recently read a blog post by Dan Pearce entitled, "I'm Christian, Unless You're Gay," which I think describes this phenomenon very accurately. Basically, what he summates is that even though most of try to live our life according to a value system that includes some version of non-violence and love towards others, we fail when we reach a person or situation that makes us fearful. His title explains the issue perfectly -- we strive for the joy that unconditional love towards our neighbors will bring us . . . until our neighbors are gay (or fat or Mexican or lazy).
I was born and raised in a moderate size town in northern Utah. I have not lived there since I was 18, when I packed my bags and ran screaming into the night towards a place that exhibited more tolerance, acceptance and love. I've lived out of Utah now for 12 years, and since I've lived in places with more tolerance towards those who are different, it's easy for me to forget how deep the pit of despair can be for someone of the wrong faith, color, size, shape, and especially sexual orientation. The Mormon Church is conducting one of the biggest anti-gay campaigns in the world, and propogates its message with, among other things, slanderous books with no basis in real fact. A look at this book, its message, and those it's hurting can be found on the blog, "unambiguous."
The discrimination of gay and lesbian people in particular saddens me, and my heart withered with the agonizing accuracy and and honesty or Pearce's post. In the post (which I suggest you read), he paints a picture of despair with a conversation he had with a gay friend of his.