I don’t care who’s side you’re on.
You just have to be on love’s side. When I wake up in the morning, I ask Alexa to tell me the news, and honestly, recently, I’ve had to ask her to stop. I simply don’t want to hear it. Take out all of the political agendas, the belief systems, the media, and the interpretations and what you simply have is hate at its most bare core. And I’m not saying that this is a new thing. I think hate, from my own experience, has existed my whole life towards people who were different, who challenged the process, who questioned tradition. I don’t think it’s an argument over why there seems to be so much hatred in our world. I’ve found, in my personal life, that trying to place blame isn’t what solves the problem. I don’t really care who’s fault it is. All I care about is that we all recognize the intentions behind acts of hatred and try to stop it.
And I know, trust me, that as a twenty-something, as a high-schooler, as anyone… it feels like you don’t have any control. As if nothing you did could really change the outcome, but trust me, you can. You have a voice. You have a say. You have a body. You have a soul. Those are tools; use them.
1.) Compliment people. I say this all the time, but sincerely, it works. Go out of your way to tell someone that you’ve noticed them. Sometimes, that all it takes. Tell that girl that you love her hair. She may hate the way it looks, but if you tell her that you adore it, it could change her entire mindset.
2.) Hold the door open for people. Ask the if they’d like to go first.
3.) Smile at people. I know it’s so easy to look down at your phone as you’re walking (guilty), but people respond to kindness. Say good morning. Say excuse me.
4.) Stop it when it starts. If you overhear someone saying something even passively racist or hateful, speak up. Tell them that’s not okay. It doesn’t have to be spiteful, just lean over and speak the truth that you know to be morally right and sound. Don’t feel like you’re being aggressive. Think of it as a rumor– you wouldn’t want that getting around if you know it to be false information. Don’t let people get hurt because you didn’t say anything when you should have.
5.) Tell the people that you love that you love them. I’m serious, call grandma. Call your best friend. Call that girl who’s locker was next to yours years ago. Acknowledge that those people are important to you. Even people who may seem to be incredibly happy may need a reminder. We all could use a reminder.
6.) READ when you don’t understand something. When you’re at school, you don’t just skip over a chapter or a problem because you don’t understand the information, you ask for help. Ask for help. Google terms or news that you don’t understand. Ask people who may know the answers. GET the answers. This isn’t an SAT. You actually lose points when you choose to ignore things.
7.) Share you seat. I was at the laundromat the other day when I saw this girl standing with her book by her washer because it seemed all the seats were taken. I asked if she wanted to sit across from me at my table, and she was so grateful. Ask people to sit with you. Introduce yourself. Make sure people feel noticed.
8.) Positivity. Sincerely. You’ve heard me say time and time again, but every negative can be turned into a positive. Stop spreading more hate via the internet. Use that space for love! Even if the world seems so bleak, miserable, and out of control, I promise there will always be way more love than hate if you look hard enough. Post about the beauty you had in your life today. Stop complaining. Use these amazing platforms that we have to publish goodness. I want our screens to be filled with crucial, viable information, no matter how heartbreaking… but I also want the good things. I want to see people succeeding and loving despite the current situation of our communities.
9.) Believe in the small-stuff. Your hometown, for example. Participate in community projects that can better the place where you are. I know it may not seem like much, but if each person took the time to better the space where they exist, soon we can string all that together and our entire place will be better for it. Create awareness in casual conversations on the bus, at your dinner table, in a text message. All great things started so, so small.
10.) Trust that there is goodness. Have faith in humanity. Don’t say you’ve given up. There is so much love in this world, I promise. You just have to find it, set it on fire, and watch it explode.