Love Unapologetically

| October 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

Why are so many of history’s most massive moments written in blood?

Why have the dead told us more stories than the living, told us more about life, faith, and the human condition than our friends and families possibly could?

Why is it that we can all, from every nation, recall a different date, a different tragedy, unlike any other – except those that our fellow friends suffered several oceans across in a different time? Why is every act of ruthless, unforgivable, inhumane violence that bloodied our streets and set our homes aflame burned so brightly into our brains? Burned so brightly that we could never, ever forget the horror, the powerlessness, the sense of anxiety that haunted us for nights to come?

And the nightmares. Oh, the nightmares every night that shake us awake and see us huddled sleeplessly around the television, watching the news anchors stammer facts and numbers and statistics, rumors and conspiracy theories. And yet all of that is white noise compared to the cold, raw truth at the heart of their words.

People have died.

Young and old, bold and beautiful.

People have died.

Those who had lived full lives and felt they were in a safe place at last, and those whose lives had only just started.

People have died.

Those who’d just met the loves of their lives or just landed that dream job, and those who had been entwined with their soulmate for years now and were comfortably settled into their work.

Those who’d never had a chance to find either.

People have died.

Delinquents and business casuals, misfits and socialites.

The lost and the rejected, the hurting and the condemned. The free, the brash, the unstoppable.

The barrel of a gun knows no difference between them, nor does the mask worn by the face that carries one.

But the face? It knew, once.

People have died.

And we are still here.

You and I are still here, holding the line. You and I are still here, hurting. But our work isn’t finished.

I urge you to love unapologetically. When the bitter and the bruised tell you that you can no longer trust anyone, tell them ‘No.’ That’s bullshit. The moment we lose faith in each other is the moment they’ve won. Tell them you love them, and tell them you have nothing to be sorry for for trusting in a friend, a family member, a co-worker you once knew. Tell them you trust them too, and like to believe they trust you.

Love unapologetically. Teach your children to love. Teach them that the bullies that terrorize them are just as scared as they are, and teach them to fight back not with hate and rage but with love. To stand tall and say ‘I’m not scared of you.’

Teach them to never turn on their classmates and friends, but instead to reach out to the lonely and the lost. No one should feel like they have to lie to themselves or to sacrifice their own essence to fit in. We are all flawed, and ugly beneath the skin, and yet we are all still here. If you have ever felt alienated – as I have and so many people I have come to love have – then remember not to alienate anyone else in turn. Show them that we deserve better.

You deserve better.

Love, unapologetically. Teach your children about heroes: tell them stories of martyrs who gave their lives for their country, of revolutionists who rebelled so they could be afforded the same rights as anyone else, of boy wizards who conquered unimaginable evils and of Spider-Men and Avengers who used their power not to oppress and spread hate, but to defend those without.

Teach them about culture: games and dances and traditions, books and paintings and movies and music. If the stories we tell and read and listen to can hold so much beauty in them, if the characters from within them can live and breathe so vividly that they are there for us even when no one else is, how could we turn on this flawed, beautiful world?

How could we ever stop fighting for each other?

How can we generalize entire populations based on the actions of the pained few we ourselves pushed away, when we shouldn’t have? How can we blame them when we ourselves were too scared to love? When we ourselves didn’t treat each other with the basic same decency that you and I were afforded, like we’re not all human beneath all our differences?

Hate is easy. It’s simple, organically grown: people disappoint you. It seems rational.

I’ve been there, too, submerged and thrashing in my innermost thoughts, trapped by mortal flesh and by foolish mind.

I remember dark nights when my loved ones weren’t there, and dark nights when they said the wrong things and left me feeling hollow. I remember the days I let them down in turn, and the days I could not reach them. Worst of all, I remember the days we were most human: when we were the most flawed, the most petty, the most hurtful.

Hate is easy.

But then I remember the days we were most human: when we were the most united, the most supportive, and the most present. I remember the days we inspired one another through words and through song, when we made ourselves really and truly vulnerable. We put down our defenses and dared to love. We dared to stand together, knowing all of us were stronger than one of us. We dared to get hurt, because as easy as hate is, to turn to love instead was so infinitely more worth it.

Love unapologetically. Turn to your friends and your families and your loved ones and remind them that in spite of all the tragedy, all the despair, it’s okay to turn around and hold one another. It’s okay to stop mourning after a while, and to stand up with fire in your heart and courage in your soul. Remind them that those who have left us would not have wanted us to despair, or to be afraid; they would have wanted us to remember them in their laughter and in their passionate glory. Remind them that we may be victims, but we are also fighters and survivors, artists and heroes.

Remind them that the only way we can win this war is through love and trust, through an unapologetic defiance to ill intent, through the words ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m not afraid.’

Love unapologetically.


Featured photo credit: Byron357 Hand Close-Up via photopin (license)

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Category: Art and Literature, featured, Poetry, Prose and Comedy, Reflections

Aaraf Afzal

About the Author ()

Aaraf Afzal is many things, but he's not particularly good at being any of them. He continues to work towards this goal, among others, studying Film & TV and Economics at Boston University. An avid subscriber to the belief that all forms of media have their own sense of artistic beauty, he is particularly invested in writing fiction and recently released his first novel "Re: Revolution" in Bangladesh. Alongside his pursuits at Culture Shock, he's currently at work writing an online series called "The Chosen Zeroes." Fandoms and inspirations include Neil Gaiman, Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet and Clank, Marvel Comics, and Culture Shock. Giggity.

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