An Open Letter To Myself In 2016

2015 was a ______ year. You can go ahead and fill that in. With just about any adjective really. Here’s a brief break down of what we’ve just been through.

Cops killing civilians. Civilians killing cops. Worldwide terrorists attacks. Mass shootings. Mass abductions. Earthquakes. Floods. Landslides. Baby parts being sold. People killing people in the name of those baby parts. Refugee babies washing up on distant shorelines. Terrorists posing as refugees. Political scandal. Politicians with bad hair reminding us that humanity is a sad broken machine. History repeating itself in the most obvious and obnoxious ways...

Fear. That is where you want to live. Where you could live if you let yourself. You went to the movie theater the other day and it occurred to you that if someone came in and shot everyone, you would be the first person to die. When you went on vacation in April, you watched a barge out at sea and all you could think was, “I bet there are people being trafficked inside those containers.” 

Mother of sanity.

Where is the reset button on life?

You have always been an emotional person. Taken life a bit too serious. Been a bit too sensitive. Cared a little too much. Empathy was a way of life for you. You cannot watch the news or even a movie for that matter without becoming one with the pain, the sadness, the destruction. It is the best and the worst thing about you. 

For a long time you thought that you were broken. You are not. You are learning. Learning that empathy is a valuable and priceless commodity. And many people lack it. And it cannot be bought. And in many cases it can’t even be learned. It’s what makes you beautiful. 

You are learning that diversity is also a valuable and priceless commodity. That the fact that your social media feed is full of people of all varieties of races, religions, sexual orientations, political affiliations, and general opinions is one of the best reflections of who you are as a person. Unconditionally loving. 

You choose to see the best in people. To stop and try and understand them. The Christians. The Muslims. The Jews. The cops. The civilians. The convicts. The refugees. The terrorists. The politicians. The gun owner. The families of the shooting victims. That does not make you naive. It makes you good. It makes you a little more like Jesus. 

All of them. All of them. All of them. Or none of them. No exception. That is how love works. It is wildly unreasonable. Goes against the grain. What feels acceptable. It calls us to do the unthinkable. To forgive. 

So the next time something bad happens, instead of fear, you will embrace it. Because you are strong. You are a survivor. And you are surrounded by love and diversity and understanding. You will endure as you have time and again. Like your many friends have, time and again. 

Because we are all connected. Humanity. We are in this together, whether we like to admit or not. If we would just take the time to stop looking at each other as bad or wrong. If we could just recognize that most of the time we are just different. And different is okay. It’s not the worst thing in the world. Because as long as we have love, the rest falls away. 

So let the rest fall away this year. 

No more judgment. No more politics. No more deleting or blocking something because it doesn’t line up with your ideology. No more living in a box. Your little safe zone.

Stay true to who you are. What you believe. But this year don’t let what is out there control who you are in here. Inside your heart, your head. You may not get it right every time. And that is okay too. But you are learning. 

Be good to everyone. Especially those who are different than you. Stretch yourself. Meet some new people. People who are very different from you. Talk to them. Cultivate relationships. Develop understanding where once was discord. And fear. Fear that would have us believing this world is a big bad scary place full of “those people” who want to do terrible things. 

When the reality is that there are more of us. 

Let me repeat. There are more of us. 

We may still have differences. But when it comes to the important things. Things that matter. Like being a parent. Putting food on the table. Laughing with friends. There are more of us. There is more love than hate. There is more love in the world than there is fear. 
And when you love like this, it is contagious. It rubs off. Even on the people who disagree with you the most. Because that’s how love operates. It unifies. It destroys fear. And anger. And hate. 

Everything that your enemy, whoever or whatever your enemy is, wants. Love is the ultimate weapon. And it’s free. 

Before you stop talking to certain friends, family members, co-workers, or even strangers etc… because they think, dress, live, worship, act differently than you, remember that is not how love works. 

So let this year be different than all the other years. Let this year be about love in the face of all the bad things that might happen. Let it be about love in the face of all the people who dislike you, disagree with you, or even hate you. Let this year be the year that love leads the way.

And remember, perfect love casts out all fear. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.