Love is a quiet thing. Goodness is quiet.
We don’t shout out, “I’m holding the door open for this folks.” We don’t proclaim to an entire shopping centre “We’re holding hands now.” There are no yells echoing in streets or homes that “I’m hugging you now.”
Yet, these things are happening.
One of the remarkable facets about love is that something that can be so big, so limitless, so obvious is also unbelievably simple and, in a way, small. There are some who make grand gestures of love. However, the silent and small gestures are grand too. It can be snuggling on a couch, or holding hands, or a peck on a cheek. It’s moments that we’d almost describe as nothing, but somehow are something. You glance at your signifcant other and there’s just something– you can’t really describe it, you can’t really explain it– that makes you feel good, makes you smile, makes you feel lucky.
It is amazing.
When a child is scared, they don’t run up to parents, screaming “buy me a car.” The thought of it seems absurd, doesn’t it? They run up and they want a hug. They want someone to hold their hand. Priceless. Simple. Small. Silent. Check for monsters. Tell them they’re safe. Again, simple. No yelling. No shouting. Tuck ’em back in bed. Smile. Tender kiss on the forehead.
Now we can get loud when we’re happy, don’t get me wrong. Joy is not easy to contain and it will burst out, infect lots of people around you.
But the love part of that, the goodness in people, it’s a quiet part of that. Because it’s the smiles that make it infectious. Yelling gets stares. Yelling with joy when it’s from love and goodness, that gets people hooting and hollering too. I may not care at all about your sports team winning, but if you are overjoyed they just won some championship and want a high-five, I will give you that high-five.
The catch with quiet is that, well, not everyone hears it all the time. It almost goes without saying, doesn’t it? If it’s silent, you have to be paying attention to notice it.
Someone holds a door open, you have to see that they’re holding it for you. When a parent takes a child’s hand, the child has to realize that or else it’s an wasted gesture. There’s not reassurance in it. You have to notice the warmth or the feeling of security from a hug or else it’s kind of awkward. You’ve probably had hugs like that. The “what are they doing?” hugs because you couldn’t understand the goodness they intended to convey. They could have said, “I’m going to hug you because I really care about you and want you to know that, but sometimes words fail me and then I ramble or stutter and I don’t want you getting the wrong idea because then it’s just uncomfortable so accept this instead.” But that’s a lot of talking and, also, rather weird. So they went with the hug which you didn’t really understand. I remember getting hugs as a kid and only now do I realize why those people bothered.
I dislike hugs, but I understand them now. I can stand them now. I am still not a hugger, but I appreciate them now.
Because I hear what is being said in those hugs. I get it. I notice it. Sometimes it’s “I care.” Sometimes it’s “I’m here for you.” Sometimes it’s “I know you feel like you’re falling apart and I just want to hold you together.”
After this latest US election, there were probably a lot of hugs.
And there is a lot of anger and fear and even hate. Those things tend to get loud. Anger can be a little quiet, not always easy to spot. Anger can smolder and then erupt. Hate is essentially a noise-maker. It is practically designed to get attention. There’s shouting. There’s hitting things and breaking stuff. The more hate, the more noticable it is.
Because hate is a strong word and leads to strong actions, just like love. They are opposites, but alike in their strength. If you hate something, you want it destroyed. If you love something, you want it alive and well. If you hate something, you will try to figure out ways to destroy it, to get rid of it. If you love something, you will do everything you possibly can to keep it alive and well.
I may not like brussel sprouts, but I don’t actually hate them. I’m not a fan of hugs, but I’m not going to punch a hugger. Sometimes we say “hate” but we don’t mean “hate;” we mean “dislike.”
It’s important to make that distinction because “dislike” can do a little, but “hate” can do a lot. There are reasons for hate. There are reasons for emotions. But it’s hate that will set cars on fire. It’s hate that will beat another man bloody. It’s hate that will tell an innocent child, “this isn’t your home.” It’s hate that will tell good people “I’m going to kill you.”
Those actions grab your attention, don’t they?
You see two people holding hands, you can walk behind them. Not a big deal. It’s not slowing you down. You see two people fighting, one of them beating the crap out of someone on the ground, you’re not walking past that, are you? You’re slowing down. You’re seeing if anyone is stopping this. Heck, you might even try to stop it. But it’s that bit of hate, that’s going to get the most attention. That’s the video that going viral.
So how does one combat the loud hate with the quiet love? The noisy bad with the silent good?
One does not.
The big changes in history were not quiet affairs. Women made noise to get those votes and they make noise now for equality again. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t have people stay home and read a book; he had a big march. They didn’t start fires. They didn’t beat people. But they made sure they were noticed. They made sure they got attention.
Right now, hate is going to being filling the airwaves. It is up to love to stand up and gain attention again. It needs to start touting its own horn again. It needs to be loud and proud again.
Have those protests. Sign petitions. But don’t stop there. Put up any sign you can that says you don’t like racism, bigotry. Let everyone you know know that you are fine with people of colour, with LGBTQ+. Let everyone in those communities know you stand with them. When you hear racism, speak up. When someone takes issue with transgender, say something. Let everyone know where you stand. Support the people who can and will change a flawed system. Let people know if they aren’t going to fight for your interests, you aren’t going to let them keep those government positions. If they aren’t being your voice, why are you continuing to pay them to do nothing?
Believe it or not, you are changing the world right now. We all are. It is incredible how easy it is to change the world. We affect the people around us. Their lives can take different paths. We are extremely powerful– never let anyone ever tell you that you’re powerless. Smiles and kind words can change a person’s whole day. If you’re doing that with purpose, there’s no limit to how much you can change things.
So change things. With loud, clear displays of caring, of kindness, of love.
Hold open more doors. Say please and thank you more. Tell people you like rainbows. Retweet stuff about equality. Have Facebook statuses that say you don’t care what someone’s religion is. Let people know that you love them, care about them. Make sure kids know they don’t live in a country of hate, or that you’re doing everything to change that. Make sure everyone hears a message of equality and love loud and clear.
As strong as hate can be, love can always beat it. Good can triumph over bad. Generally, we don’t let it show off, flex its muscles too much. But, it is strong and big. It’s time to put it on display again.
So get out there and be honest.