This past Labor Day weekend, I was visiting a friend and she wanted to put on John Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight. We watched two episodes from…approximately March of this year. One had March Madness as its topic of the night. The other had an exposé on fees attached to parking and traffic tickets.
I watched these shows, and while the jokes were spot-on, and the humor flowethed o’er, I wasn’t really laughing.
I got angry instead.
The March Madness story discussed how a billion-dollar industry used athletes to generate that revenue, and paid those athletes nothing. More than that – the industry penalized players who attempted to benefit financially from their collegiate sports career, all while some coaches racked in salaries in the multi-million dollar ranges. And the underlying racial narrative of rich white men making money off of the physical activities of young African American men carries connotations that I do not have the tact to describe in any fairer light than this:
I think it’s fucking disgusting.
The exposé on parking and traffic fees showed how, if payments were not made on time, the fees on those tickets could balloon up to levels magnitudinally larger than the original ticket. It showcased how some police departments were encouraged to give out as many tickets as they could manage, and how several municipalities drew a large portion of their budgets from the fees collected. The predation of the poor and disenfranchised by those who should have cared for them is unforgivable – and it brings me to the topic of today’s blog post.
It’s hard to choose love over hate.
It’s hard to watch the evening news some nights and feel anything but rage. It’s hard to fight the slow nurture of hatred at seeing what people do to one another. It’s so very easy to hate the perpetrator – to let your outrage build like pressure in a kettle until you’re whistling at the seams.
Love, on the other hand, is much harder to cultivate. Other feelings can easily be confused for love. Love is not pity, not even for a victim. Love is not keeping someone safe, not if it means building a cage around them. Love is not something that exists in ignorance – we cannot turn away from all the horrible things in the world and say that we love it.
Hatred is grudges, and pain, and harshness. So love, to counter that, must be forgiveness. Love must be healing. Love must be gentleness. Hatred is the swiftness of a tempestuous storm. Love is the long, slow waxing of the seasons. Hatred is the seduction of instant gratification. Love makes no promises – it speaks the simple honesty that any, and all, relationships take time and work to develop and maintain.
And so, it’s hard to choose love over hate. It’s hard to let go of the moment and live for tomorrow. It’s hard to set aside our anger and forgive. It’s hard to let go of our prejudice and build.
But love is worth it, even if it is hard.
Destruction can only remove what exists, but creation can bring forth something that has never existed before. Hatred can only destroy lives. Love can save them, and create them. But love must be nurtured, in arid soil during the bleakest of droughts.
However, the fruit of such endeavors is sweeter than that of hatred, and far more nourishing – for not only our souls, but also for the world.