Ending our culture of negativity and fear

So why am I doing this? Why am I spending every day writing about millennials when millennials hate being millennials and everything is going to hell?

Here’s why:

I was a happy child. An exuberant, bouncy, curly-haired child running up to every stranger, asking them to play “Finders Keepers” or “Fun House” with me. I would recite every state capital to anyone who was in earshot. I would list the presidents, say the alphabet backwards. I once, on stage, at a preschool assembly, read an adult-level prayer to a crowd of stunned family members. I was 4. And I was so happy. I was so excited to be me in front of everyone.

Then I grew up. I was bullied, tormented and tossed around in elementary school and junior high. I stopped trying to learn and be smart. I stopped approaching people. I became scared of people. And worse, I barely had help then. Very few people understood me. I wasn’t me anymore; fear had consumed me.

I hit some lows, some terrible lows, but a few years ago I began to climb out from the hole. Slowly I’ve confronted my demons, and while there’s still plenty of work to do, I feel that I hit the core of my life problem: fear and negativity reigned.

I think deep inside every person, regardless of who they are, what they’ve done, where they’ve originated and what they believe, is capable of good, and that every person carries happiness, however small. I think this because I have to, because if I’m not optimistic about the nature of humanity, how can I strive for a better world?

With that, I’m worried about our world. Beyond the constant destruction, continuous inequality and human-rights abuse across the planet, I see a world filled with fear and negativity. I see people scared to confront the realities that exist; instead, tethering themselves to small-minded words filled with anger and defensiveness in the hopes that, well, someone will fix the world. I see more weapons, larger armies, and an emphasis on physical strength and power. What we need is an emphasis on emotional strength and power. We need compassion and nuance, more than ever.

Watching Wednesday’s GOP debate, I grew frustrated. Candidates proposed building walls to keep people from American borders. They detailed in grotesque language images seen in a fake video to incite anger and fear about an organization that has been a player in the conversation about women’s rights. They spoke about our first black president with an ugly snarl while promoting the works of a president who furthered a culture of constant war while reducing the impact of education. They rejected established fact for words that can manipulate people through paranoia.

It’s this paranoia, this negativity and fear, that has allowed for the rise of Donald Trump, a businessman unfit to lead a nation. His words about women, about blacks, about all minorities are a danger to the world’s future. His calls to “Make America Great Again” signal a return to a reality before equal rights, where constant war surrounds our island of hate, where we feign ignorance of our own ills because it’s convenient.

Make no mistake, this negativity and fear lives across the political spectrum. It’s in Hillary Clinton’s forceful language of war against Middle Eastern states. It’s in America’s current occupations in the Middle East, where daily airstrikes kill innocent people in the name of securing borders and protecting freedom.

However cliche, I’d rather protect love.

So my mission is to spread optimism, to spread love and action. Millennials aren’t happy with themselves. They’re failing to take action for the things they believe. They’re stuck. I know what that’s like. I know what it’s like to be surrounded by hate, to be a victim of fear, to live in paranoia. I don’t wish that upon anyone, so I’ll do what I can. Maybe it means, little by little, today’s youth can be tomorrow’s society that changes the direction of this negative, fearful world.

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