It Starts with Love

*This blog post was originally published on Feb. 21, 2018 on my previous blog, The Daily Adventures of Paige

I've been quiet for about as long as I possibly can. I've had many, many things running through my head in the past few months about body positivity, mom-shaming, mass shootings, and politics. In almost all cases I keep my opinions to myself online because causing an argument on someone else's Facebook timeline is not high on my list of things to do, but I have to get a few things off my chest.

Of course, right now the hot topic is mass shootings and gun control. I'm not here to talk about gun control or gun regulations, even though I am in favor of taking a good hard look at the gun laws we have in our country and seeing where improvements can be made.

I am here to talk about the lack of compassion, understanding, respect, patience, and love that are literally ripping our country and our families apart. In the day of social media, where hurtful, hateful and downright terrible comments are hurled across cyberspace at people we don't know, is it any wonder that more and more kids today are suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses than ever before? Is it any wonder that suicide rates are higher than ever before? Is it any wonder that kids and adults alike are turning to senseless acts of violence because they've been bullied for YEARS?

Yes, there are not enough resources available to those struggling with mental illness to get the help they need, and yes, mental illness, especially the stigma against those with mental illness needs to be addressed in this country. But in the meantime, we have to stop.
We have to stop spreading hateful messages on social media, we have to stop the bullying, we have to stop the hatred and disrespect for people who don't look like us and act like us, we have to stop!

If you are making rude or derogatory comments about celebrities, professional athletes, or anyone on social media you are part of the problem. If you judging or shaming someone who has a different body-type, skin color, parenting style than you do, you are part of the problem. If you are calling people with different opinions than you "libtards" or "snowflakes" or any other names meant to be derogatory YOU are part of the problem. This list could go on and on for longer than any of you care to read, but I'm going to make a bold statement here and say WE ARE ALL PART OF THE PROBLEM. Sorry for the caps, but it's important. I'm sure there are people out there who are wholly inclusive, loving, respectful and kind to every other human being, but I can safely say I don't know any of them. We are all guilty, myself included, of making hateful comments about others, whether in private or on social media, it doesn't matter. Because do you know who is hearing those comments we make in private? Our children, our grandchildren, our nieces, and nephews... impressionable little children that are watching and learning from the things we do and say... the generation that is going to inherit a dark and scary world if we don't do something now.

Different doesn't equal wrong. Just because someone doesn't look like you, act like, vote like you doesn't mean they are wrong, and it certainly doesn't mean they deserve to be hated by people who don't even know them.

Change, real and lasting change, won't happen overnight and it won't be easy, but we have the chance to make a real difference in the world, in our children and the world they are growing up in. Little kids shouldn't have to worry or wonder if they might get shot at school today. But until we start spreading love instead of hate, teaching our children to respect and accept those that are different from them, teaching them that under no circumstances is bullying okay and then modeling that behavior for them, nothing is going to change. Change can happen, but it doesn't start with arguing across political lines, it doesn't start by being hateful or close-minded. It starts with reaching across our differences and finding common ground, it starts with understanding, compassion and respect, it starts with love.