And the world really does need more love right now. Whether it’s the Trump presidency, the general state of the world or just a sense of dissatisfaction with your own life, people are worried, confused and angry. And they’re taking it out on each other.
We need to remember though, that how we react is a choice. We might now have much control over Trump’s tweets, or madmen with nuclear weapons, or about our shitty boss, but we can control how we choose to respond to these things.
Love after a tragedy
After the tragedy at Pulse nightclub for instance, we as a worldwide gay community, responded with love. That was a choice.
And it was an important choice because we could have chosen to respond in any number of other ways. With fear. Retribution. Hatred. Or any other number of responses that while may be valid for some – and for a period in time – over the long-term don’t really add value to our lives.
As a marginalised community, we have experienced firsthand decades of discrimination, abuse, hatred and fear directed at us based purely and solely on one aspect of ourselves we have no control over – our sexual orientation. While the situation is improving, at least in many first world countries, it can be easy to forget that 74 countries in the world still criminalise homosexuality – some by death.
The hatred too many of us experience hasn’t always come from outside either. Too often, we have torn ourselves down and sought to separate and create divisions amongst ourselves. Maybe it’s a defence mechanism, or internalised homophobia or a response to the abuse we have experienced ourselves, but the (stereotypical) image of gay guys as bitchy, negative, nasty and downright mean exists. As with all stereotypes and generalisations, it doesn’t apply to all of us, but most of us would recognise some of those elements within our community.
It’s no wonder that the world can seen overwhelming, chaotic, heartless and cruel. When faced with such a world, choosing love doesn’t always come easily or naturally. Other responses do and those responses seem to be the ones many people are latching on to – fear of others or those who are different, blaming whole swaths of people based on one characteristic (like religion) or just tuning out completely and closing off the parts of ourselves that are compassionate and caring.
One of the biggest lessons I’m not only learning – but actually living – in my 30s is that so much of our lives are our choice. What led me to this realisation is the ability to separate two key components of life – control and choice. Previously, I had conflated the two terms and used them almost interchangeably.
I have come to realise and accept that I have pretty much no control over my partner, my friends and family, the weather, the traffic or anything that is outside of myself. All that stuff out there is going to happen one way or another.
So I can’t control any of that external stuff. However, I can totally control my response to all of it. When it comes to how I respond or react to all of that external stuff, I have a choice.
That explains why so many of us were moved after Orlando tragedy and expressed our emotions by connecting with one another. All around the world, from Los Angeles to London, Brisbane to Bangkok, the message was clear – we chose love.
From memorials throughout the US, to vigils in the UK, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and plenty of other countries across the globe, our collective response was one of love and compassion, as we grieved and remembered those whose lives were taken too soon.
But it also explains why a gay gun owning group in Dallas, the Pink Pistols, has seen it’s membership increase by 200% post-Orlando. That too is a choice.
Because if love is a choice, then so is hate. And fear. And anxiety, apathy, confusion and any other emotional response we are all perfectly entitled to have. Given all that’s going on in the world at the moment, it’s not surprising that people are responding in a number of different ways.
And with technological advances and the rise of social media, nowadays when we get angry – we can let the world know about it. Literally. Every second of every day, more online hatred and negativity is being thrown out into the world. People are furiously tapping their frustrations and sharing them with everyone.
I’m not making a judgemental call as to whether or not that’s healthy, it’s more of an observation. And it’s an observation that gives rise to a pretty simple question – are you simply reacting? Because in some ways, it’s easier to release the rage than to deal with it. Dealing with it is hard, it takes time, there are no shortcuts and it’s not fun. Tweeting out a negative comment gives you an instant hit. But really, what value does it add to your life in the long-term?
It’s not that these ‘negative’ emotions are intrinsically bad. In fact, they’re necessary, If our lives were only made of good, happy emotions, it wouldn’t be real. A full life encompasses the entire broad spectrum of human emotion – good and bad, positive and negative. In some ways, you almost need the bad stuff in order to really appreciate all the good stuff we do have.
It just starts to become an issue when we choose – and it is a choice – hate, fear and divisiveness more readily and too easily, rather than choosing love, kindness and compassion.
So when I came across the #WorldNeedsMoreLove initiative, I was immediately interested. The brainchild of adventurer, lifestyle writer and ‘advocate for love’ Tommy DiDario, the idea is so simple and only takes a minute or two, yet is so powerful.
Here’s Tommy explaining how it works
The idea came to Tommy in response to so many of the tragic and scary events we have seen unfold recently.
“My idea behind this campaign came from what’s been going on in the world over the last few months. Too many are mourning tragic and senseless loss week after week. We need to come together and unite right now and figure out how to make the world we live in — the world our children and their children will live in — a peaceful one,” he says.
Tommy’s goal with the campaign is:
“For someone to take a minute out of their busy day and choose kindness – but not just to choose kindness to someone that may expect it, but to do a kind act to someone who would be not expecting it. I try to use my platform to promote being kind to one another and show the importance of raising each other up and supporting one another, and working together to continue making strides towards acceptance and love.”
I recently reached out to Tommy to talk more about #WorldNeedsMoreLove and to get his thoughts on the state of the world at the moment, how to actually choose love over fear and how to live lovingly in an age of social media trolls and rampant negativity.
Tommy is a really lovely and down-to-earth guy. I really appreciate him taking time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts with Little Gay Blog readers. I hope you guys enjoy it!
Here’s our chat –
Little Gay Blog – Firstly Tommy, congratulations on the initiative. It’s such a great idea and it’s making a real, positive difference in the world. What’s the response been like so far?
Tommy – Thank you! It has been really great to see people from all over the world participating.
The point is simple – to do a random act of kindness to make someone’s day. In a world where so much hatred exists, it’s sometimes the smallest acts of kindness that can have the most meaningful impact and effect.
This initiative comes at just the right time. A lot of people are afraid. They look at things that are happening in the world – like Orlando, or Trump, or Brexit – and feel fearful and concerned. Some people become cynical, others become angry and hateful. It makes love seem like a distant concept. What advice would you give to people who may feel like it’s hard to access love in a world where the forces of fear and hate are all around us?
Love ALWAYS wins. We can’t live our lives in fear, that’s what people producing acts of hate want. They want to control you, they want to instill fear, they want to silence you. And we can’t allow that as a society.
We need to stand up for what we believe in and produce messages of hope, love and positivity. The truth of the matter is that hate exists in many forms out there, but as individuals, we can continue pouring out kindness in any and every way possible.
Who did you choose for your challenge? How did they react and has it had an impact or changed your relationship with that person in a lasting way?
I chose a childhood friend’s mother, Claudette. She has always been someone so positive, encouraging and supportive of me. She is the type of person that you can call anytime, any day and she would be there in a minute for you. She is nothing but a bundle of love and joy, and this world can use people like her in it.
We always had a tremendous amount of respect for one another but I think she really saw (through my selection of her for this challenge) how much I truly value her – and hopefully she will always remember how she has touched my life.
It’s interesting that this campaign is being propelled on social media which as a platform, is notorious for trolling and negativity. What is it about social media do you think that brings out these less appealing qualities, and was part of your goal for having this campaign on social media, an attempt to change that negative, troll culture?
I think the trolling and negativity comes from problems that people have within themselves, so they lash out and try to take away someone else’s happiness. It’s quite sad, that someone would feel the need to consciously try to make someone else feel badly about themselves. I just don’t understand it. How much self-hate and unhappiness must one have to do that? It’s so easy to hide behind a computer and say something mean, and that’s just what some people do. It’s cowardly and honestly disgusting. My message with this campaign is that kindness and love always will win. And social media is a great platform to share that message. Who knows, maybe a troll will see this campaign and realise the need for change.
Lastly, what’s your ultimate hope for this campaign? How long will it continue for and what would you like to ultimately achieve?
I honestly started this because I just wanted to do something, my small part, to spread love during a time when the world needs it.
I would love to keep it going because it makes people feel good – and that’s what I enjoy most about it. It makes people feel good to see their name written on a piece of paper, and it makes people feel good to know that they made someone’s day.
It’s a positive experience that can bond people together and reinforce the notion that negativity will not win.