I have discovered that animosity is a powerful but subtle poison. When some people think of hatred or evil, they tend to have this played out scene, a battle typically, between good and evil, much like that is portrayed in movies and other dramatic productions. A good question to ponder is: how do you think that battle really started? I think it started with a simple misunderstanding, a slip of the tongue, or a misguided action. From there, it grew slowly and without notice. Doubts started to creep in, attitudes became bitter and before anyone realized it, both sides believed they were in the right and the other was the guilty party – needing the dose of punishment and correction.
Animosity is a quiet killer. It separates and divides wives from husbands, brothers from sisters, parents and children, adults from youth, race from race, and friend from friend in a slow and unnoticeable way. Think of a newly built bridge. In the first years, it looks beautiful, powerful and in perfect working condition. As time, usage and the natural elements wear on the bridge, it begins to rust in a few places here or there – and can be easily patched up with a coat of paint. But inside, the damage has already been done to the bridge. The structure has been weakened and the bridge is under a curse that is characterized by a slow and consistent rotting away from the inside. As even more time passes by, the bridge can no long handle the weight of itself and it collapses suddenly and sometimes without warning. In this analogy, it is easy to see that we are that bridge and the power of hate and anger is the rotting of ourselves. We can do everything in our power to patch ourselves up and maintain the proper outer appearance, but inside we are losing control – and most of the time, we don’t even realize it.
Worse yet, this analogy does not happen in isolation. When we become infected with feelings of disgust, we rarely keep it to ourselves. People are designed to be social and we crave to be in a community where we belong. And when we are in our community, we share with others what is within ourselves. So those filled with hate and anger, spread the same feelings and thoughts to others in the similar way they became infected with it themselves. Most of the times, I don’t think it is something we deliberately do. I think it is a teaching that is done through our choice of words and actions and it is most certainly a slow and gradual process that over time becomes involuntary.
My heart is burdened when I witness others putting down people because of a personal choice they don’t understand or for situations they may have no control over. As a caveat to that, we all acknowledge that we have made some poor decisions in life, yet we are so quick to judge and put ourselves against those make these poor choices, and especially if it happens to make us uncomfortable.
My heart is also burdened by those who refuse to embrace tolerance and diversity across all types of peoples. They are people who have picked ignorance over acceptance, anger over sobriety and animosity over love. These are the people who are constantly offensive in nature and are offended by others.
My burden for them is personal. As much as I would like to call out these people, I realize that I can not because I must acknowledge that my bridge has become rusted; I am diagnosed with a case of animosity. Just like most, I don’t remember when it first happened, or who the person was who taught it to me, yet I know I have it. Like most, I didn’t realize the first time that I have taught it to others, yet I know I have. I have chosen ignorance, I have chosen anger and I have chosen animosity, yet I know these are not the choices I want to make. So what I’m really trying to say here is that I confess that I have been practicing and preaching this way of life for so long now, it’s involuntary.
But today, this very day and this very hour, I want to let you know God that I want to put all of this behind me. I want to be slow to anger and even slower to speak so that my words will build up the people around me and not tear them down. I wish for you to open my heart and my mind to education, acceptance, sobriety and love. I want to be the bridge that looks strong and beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. I want to be cured from this disease. And in order to do that I realize that I’m going to have to let go – of everything. It’s not going to be easy for me and I won’t be able to do it all at once. I’ve grown attached to my vices and I love them dearly. So let me give you each one, one at a time, at the pace you know I need to take. And when I’ve handed over to you that final piece – that one that was the toughest and the hardest to give you – I know that I will be that new creation and my transformation will be complete. Then, as a repayment and in my gratitude, I will make my life one that will no longer spread the teachings of hate, anger and frustration, but instead, I will be an ambassador of love, generosity and patience.