“Hatred is winning.”
Many times a day I find myself thinking this—maybe just as some internal primal scream therapy; an emotional pressure release to fend off a coming explosion, a way of coping with so much hitting the fan in this country at one time.
I say the words to myself, and after a few disorienting seconds the feeling passes. I breathe and realize my overreaction. There is a brief moment of despair but it soon departs.
But on some days I really believe the words. Some days the feeling doesn’t pass quickly—it lingers and begins to settle like a stone upon my chest. Some days I’m fully convinced that indecency is gaining traction, that good people are an endangered species, that love’s victory may not be inevitable after all.
I caught myself believing that today.
Maybe you’re feeling that way right now too. Maybe you’re looking at the decidedly awful stuff that flies in front of your face and you’re coming to the conclusion that evil has the upper hand. You may be thinking it’s all going to hell in a really fast car. You might be losing faith in humanity.
I understand why you’d feel that way.
I also know that you’d be wrong.
Seriously, hatred is not winning.
I promise you.
Yes, there are some really miserable human beings doing some incredibly cruel things to a whole lot of people—many from Senate seats and mega church pulpits and capitol buildings and television studios. This gives their vitriol a megaphone, it magnifies their enmity, it earns their sickness greater bandwidth than it deserves. The venom those relatively few people produce commandeers the headlines and writes the loud narrative of impending disaster. It’s a story you read and re-read all day long. It becomes gospel truth.
But that is not the whole story. It is not your story, or mine, or the story of tens of millions of people like us who are profoundly disturbed right now; those of us sick to our stomachs and moved to tears. We are furious, and that fury is an alarm ringing out in the center of our chests. In that place, hatred is not winning. In that place, love and goodness are trending. In that place, life is defiantly breaking out. In that place, hope is a rising flood.
It is happening in quiet moments with those who make up our tribe, as we make meals and kiss scraped knees and gather around table; in the laughter we cultivate together, the embraces we share, the memories we create; in the care we provide and the compassion we express and the decency we generate.
It is happening in the silence and solitude when we reflect or think or pray about this world and try to figure out how to help it heal.
It is happening in our relationships and our work and our ministry and our activism.
It is happening right now—in a billion ordinary, sacred acts of love that will never make the news but will still leave their mark.
We need to stop waiting for permission from someone else to be hopeful. We need to stop requiring consent to be optimistic. We need to believe the goodness we see in the front row of our lives, instead of the lies of those we see from a great distance.
Someone once asked Prince about the relatively poor chart performance of one of his albums. His response was something to the effect of, “It’s number one in our house.” He was reminding the reporter that his life would not be defined by anyone else; that he could only measure for himself what gave him joy or meaning. He could only produce something beautiful to him and rest in that. He could only make the world he had access to.
You are living proof that hatred is not winning. In the story you are writing here—good, compassionate, open-hearted people still walk the planet. Don’t underestimate this.
In the hearts of hateful people, yes hatred is winning.
In those continually consumed with contempt for others, yes violence is trending.
In the lives of those who get up every day seeking to do damage, yes the bad people are winning.
But this is not who you are.
And as exhausted and disheartened and terrified as you are—there are millions upon millions who are similarly burdened.
Take a look in the mirror and remember that there, hatred is not winning.
Notice the people in your news feed who give you reason to keep going.
Realize that in them, hatred is not winning.
Think about the people you see being brave and selfless and compassionate, and remember that because of them, hatred is not winning.
Look across the room or through the contacts on your phone or next to you at dinner, and remember that hatred is not winning there.
As long as the heart of decent people is still beating—hope lives.
Put your hand on your chest and be reminded.
Republished with permission from John Pavlovitz.
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.