Fear is a funny thing. It can also be a deadly thing. The hatred being displayed all over the country right now stems from fear. Fear of disrupting the norm, of people who are different. At the same time, the unwillingness to be who you really are also stems from fear. Fear of being different. Fear of judgment and negative reactions. The latter fear is in hopes of preventing the former fear from igniting into hatred.
But this terribly dysfunctional system requires balance. People who are different must be in constant fear so that those opposed to their differences won’t be in fear. In the same way, people can only be who they are if that fear of intolerance doesn’t exist. One group has to compromise. The problem is: the opposers are never going to compromise. Even if their fear doesn’t manifest as violence, they’ll still have to live in constant fear. And that’s no fun for anyone.
And “just get over it” isn’t going to work for someone in whom fear is that deeply engrained.
So what’s the solution? Simply put, love.
And I’m not suggesting this solution to the opposers. It’s hard to imagine that people with that much/that category of fear have any room left in their hearts for anything else. It would be incredible if they could be led to love, but that’s grasping at straws. The only thing we can do is show them true love by example.
Obviously, love won’t bring recent victims back or put an immediate end to intolerance and hatred. It’s absolutely a risky choice. Letting your guard down leaves you feeling defenseless. But, what love will do is put the fear of people who are terrified to be themselves to rest. Replace your fear with love for the opposers and, at the least, you can approach this issue with a mind at ease. Instead of being fearful, question why those in fear are the way they are; what’s the root of it? This seems oversimplified, I know. And I have not directly experienced the pain or torment brought about by being gay or a race other than white by those in fear. But I know and love people who have, and it’s the only route I’ve tried that at least brings me a little comfort, a little hope and a lot of empathy.
This isn’t a short-term solution. Love has to be the overwhelming reaction from those who suffer from the results of intolerance for a long time until it makes a difference. And it won’t change or prevent more violence from occurring. Love can’t treat the symptoms of hate in this world, but it can become a lifelong healing process to discover and solve the root issue. Fear is inevitable, no matter what you believe. But it can and must be overcome. Dare to be yourself and then dare to love others.