Arm Yourself With Love

Watching the news nowadays has really morphed into quite the traumatic experience. Wherever we turn, we are inundated with images of the darker side of humanity that nobody likes to make eye-contact with: Modern day lynchings, the manipulation of an otherwise beautiful faith to justify the unjustifiable, and a global audience who refuses to act unless it is profitable for them to do so.

These atrocities, so dreadful in nature and absurd in number, have unfortunately lost their shock value and have become commonplace.

I dream, of course, of the absence of such depravity, perhaps in vain.

But one can’t help but wonder: How on Earth did we let it get to this point? Why has such violence remained so central to our global infrastructure?

The human race is supposed to be this sparkling result of millions of years of evolution, yet we as a civilization still adhere to fiercely to that old adage of fighting fire with fire.

Now, I’m no scientist, but I’m fairly certain that fighting fire with fire does nothing to reduce the size of the fire. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it only produces a bigger fire. Which, of course, only necessitates more fire to put it out.

Violence and aggression often work this way, on any level, whether it be a family rivalry or a world war. Our gut instinct is to react to bitterness and aggression with bitterness and aggression which, no surprise, only results in more bitterness and aggression.

What we often fail to realize is that, most of the time, bitterness and aggression spawn from one of two places: fear or pain. We are still very much like our ancestors in this aspect: an animal, when cornered, is prone to lashing out. Most of the time it means no ill will, and the creature is only concerned with self-preservation.

So, then, shouldn’t we reconsider our response to such hostility? I’m not the first person to ask this question.

In fact, a large part of Martin Luther King’s legacy is centered around his preachings on the futility of violence and the poignancy of meeting aggression with love. He often thought of his approach as a type of armor, saying that “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”

Now, that’s a lovely sentiment and all, and I’m sure it would go wonderfully in a Hallmark card, or in a fortune cookie. But, make no mistake, Martin Luther King’s words are not only thought-provoking and touching, but they are incredibly effective in practice as well.

With this philosophy, Martin Luther King flourished, and led the African-American Community to victory during the Civil Rights Movement. It was this philosophy that allowed Mahatma Gandhi to lead the Indians towards independence from Imperial England. This philosophy enabled Mother Teresa to reach millions of people through her mission in Calcutta. It really is amazing what a little compassion and understanding can do.

Yet, we still insist on resorting to violence to solve our problems. And look where that’s gotten us.

In times like this, I often ponder the words of the great Eleanor Roosevelt. She asked: “When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”

I can only hope that this will be the generation that can scrounge together enough courage to say: enough is enough.

Hurt people hurt people. That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation. It is up to us to break the chain today.

So, my challenge to you, and myself, is this: To meet anger with sympathy, cruelty with kindness, and contempt with compassion. Greet grimaces with a smile. Forgive and forget about finding fault and seeking revenge. And in whatever adversity you man face, may your wisdom be you armor, and your compassion be your sword. For it is love, not hate, that is the weapon of the future.

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What Good Amid These?

“O me! O life! Of the questions of these recurring:

of the endless trains of the faithless,

of cities fill’d with the foolish,

of myself forever reproaching myself (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?).

What good amid these? O me! O life!

The answer:

That you are here, that life exists, and identity.

That the powerful play goes on,

And you may contribute a verse.”

I can write an essay on pretty much any academic topic you could conjure up, but, ask me to write a piece on myself, I get stuck. Leave it to me to unnecessarily overcomplicate the easiest topic in the world.

And I guess this is because of a number of reasons. I’m only 17, after all. At this point in my life, my personality hasn’t quite set yet. On any given day, I wear several different “hats”. Some days I feel like a cynical 45-year-old, middle aged corporate pawn. Other days I feel like a peaceful 80-year-old woman, nodding in acceptance after coming to terms with her reality. Some days, I’m a Pinterest-scouring, Martha-Stewart-channeling domestic housewife. So you see, I’m still trying to develop the concept of who I am. Who knows, maybe I’m all of these things. Maybe I’ll conclude one day that I’m none of these things.

But, I guess I could give it a try anyways:

My name, in all of its two-syllable glory, is Taylor. I was born on March 11th, 1997 in Birmingham, Alabama, where I was raised. I’m a Pisces. I’m a sister. I’m a daughter. I’m a student.

Like many, I love learning but I hate school.

Like many, I believe my taste in music is far superior to anyone else’s.

Like many, my life has been a bittersweet cocktail made up of equal parts triumph and tragedy.

I’m not dismissing the triumphs, because they are really marvelous and should never be taken for granted. Nor am I implying that we are victims or that we are what has happened to us. I’m simply saying that sometimes, whether we like it or not, the tragic parts in our lives have a massive impact on who we are. And that’s okay. It took me a long time to realize that.

When I was eight years old, I was watching That’s So Raven in the living room when I heard the gun go off in the bedroom across the hall, and the frantic screaming that ensued. I had misheard my mother at first when she screamed “Daddy shot himself in the head.” My grandfather, who had suffered from schizoaffective disorder his whole life, had decided to put an end to his life.

There’s a weird kind of grief and searing hollowness that follows a suicide. It feels “up in the air”, it lacks closure. There’s no peace. Everything feels sort of in limbo. It’s the most devastating of deaths because it leaves such damage behind. I don’t think my grandfather ever really understood how much he was needed and loved and cherished.
Unfortunately, his passing was only my first encounter with the effects of mental illness. My mother has PTSD, OCD, and a Panic Disorder as a result of that day. My Aunt struggles with bulimia in her late 40s. My best friend tried to take her own life my sophomore year. In my junior year, she succeeded.

It just seems like mental illness is one of the recurring themes in my life story. I can’t necessarily get away from it, and believe me I don’t go seeking it out. I think it was just the hand I was given.

So: “What good amid these? O me! O life!”

The answer?:

My story has molded me into who I am today:

It’s the reason why my motto is “If you need anything, let me know.”

It’s the reason why I try so hard to get people to smile.

It’s the reason why I pass out compliments like candy (although I always keep actual candy on hand just in case someone has a bad day).

It’s the reason why I never hesitate to tell someone that I love them and that I’m here for them.

It’s the reason why I listen so intently.

It’s the reason why I so fervently try to help others realize how important and cherished they are.

If my life up to this point has taught me anything, it’s taught me compassion and the priceless value of a human life.

And, it’s taught me just how blessed I really am.

A response to the notion that: “2am’s were made for poets, lovers, writers, visionaries, thinkers, etc.”

And here I am thinking that I, too, would be welcome among the other 2am dwellers. That I, too, would be privy to the rejuvenating reservoir frequented by poets, lovers, and thinkers in this twilight hour.

‘Twas so absurd to believe that I’d reap the same reward of those risen, sodden, out of the deep river valley when I’d just arrived at its mountaintop spring.

And now that I am here…

I must say, the appeal of taking such measures is beyond me. No, the altitude does nothing to revitalize my maladjusted lungs, and the darkness renders me unable to determine a hawk from a handsaw. I can’t see anything.

Inspiration is a fickle friend (or foe), you see, and rituals such as these make an amusing mockery of her elusive spirit. And while I’ve rarely been graced with her presence, I know her well enough to at least know that, in her eyes, anything less than serendipity is satire. Surely she’d side with me in saying that abstinence will in no way entitle you to her blessing. In fact, perhaps your strict adherence to such hackneyed superstition would offend her so greatly that she’d consider eternal abstinence from granting you favor.

And if so, suffice to say, you’d never hear the first breath of objection from me.

So who, then, is really worse off? Those who continually try and fail or those burdened with false confidence? The answer, I now know, is irrelevant. The same fate, for better or worse, awaits us all.

Humanity’s Achilles’ Heel.

sunrise

Behold, one of the most beautiful things in the world, the brilliant and breathtaking sunrise…..*cue cheeky smile*

 

The whole of joy and grace can be found in thanksgiving.

Eu[(char)is]teo.

Boom.

Whoop, there it is.