In 2001, I was a sophomore at Carbondale Community High School in Carbondale, IL. I was part of an Intergrated Youth Faith Council. Somehow, I was chosen to lead this group of peers. On October 1, 2001, we held a #stopthehate vigil in the town square. The message:
It doesn't matter what color your skin is, what god you pray to or anything else. There are things we all have in common and we need to focus on those things and not our differences. We need to spread the love and not be hateful.Little did I know that #spreadthelove would be with me my entire life. Because what it really comes down to ladies and gentleman, is being good and doing good. It's spreading love, not hate. It's being compassionate and undestanding.
Back then, I probably would have joined a protest. I was pretty spunky and so outspoken. I'm still outspoken, but more reserved now. I think that we can do more good in lots of ways besides protesting and rioting. The me of today sees how those events can quickly escalate into something that is dangerous. Yes, you may get media attention, but are you really solving anything? Are you making a difference?
There is a problem in the country with equality...for race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. I'm not at all dismissing protests. I'm just asking everyone to go above and beyond the protests and live by example.
My heart hurts right now because 2014 has been a year where we're realizing the unjustices of our world. It's always been unjust. We're just now noticing. I personally don't understand how people can purposely chose to be hurt others in such horrific manners as to cause death. Isn't it easier to be good, to have a good heart and love rather than hate? I just don't get it. And I don't want to understand how being a killer is easy or how being hateful toward a group of people or person because of their skin color, religion, sexual orientation or gender is easy.
Ladies and gentleman, I ask you to think about what you're doing. How can you make a positive impact in a world so broken? Is it with a protest? Or can you become a beacon of love, light, and acceptance with your actions? Can you live your life in such a way that promotes peace and love? I think you can. I think we all can.