“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Thus spake Martin Luther King. Sort of.
He actually said this:
I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. I’ve seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South to want to hate, myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love.
He’s right, of course. And he’s still right that talking about love isn’t popular in some circles, that for some, talk of love is just so much bosh and crap and none of us really believes that stuff, do we? Because talking about love is too easy, and real problems require real solutions, not sentimentalism, and isn’t everyone who prattles on about love at best a misguided optimist, of the cock-eyed variety, at worst an insincere manipulator, and shouldn’t we all just be getting angry?
No. No. Because nothing good was ever achieved through anger and hate. Because moving through the world wearing shit-colored glasses blinds us to the world-changing possibilities of hope and friendship and community and, yes, love. Because whether we’re talking about the assholes that wander the Internet looking for opportunities to spread ugliness and hostility or the pundits and politicos who put their enemies in crosshairs or the poor, miserable souls who think – or claim to think – that God tells them to hate – we’re talking about the same thing. We’re talking about the burden of hate. It drags us down. Whether it comes in small parcels or large, it weighs us down. It breaks our backs and it binds our arms and it (alongside, I would argue, apathy, which is just hate leached of its color and energy) is the thing that prevents us from seeing good and feeling good and realizing real change. It blinds us. It makes us ugly, and it makes it so that we can’t see how ugly we’ve become.
But. We can refuse it. We can decide to refuse the burden of hate; we can opt to not let it touch our shoulders. We can choose to stick with love, whatever that looks like. We can choose to stick with love. It’s not always easy – I get angry; I get lots angry and I get bitchy and I sometimes really struggle with the whole love thy neighbor thing because, seriously, the global neighborhood includes people like the Westboro Baptists – but still. We can choose to stick with love.