The opposite of love is not fear, it is cruelty.
There is a quote by former president Obama that is floating about social media platforms nowadays that goes, “I don’t know what happened to our culture. I don’t know when we began to celebrate bullies instead of looking out for people who care for other people. When did that happen?”
It is not unlike my oft-repeated rhetorical question, “What happened to our culture between 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his timeless ‘I Have a Dream’ speech to the March on Washington that summer, and 1987, when the signature expression became a speech by Gordon Gecko, the fictional character in the film, ‘Wall Street,’ that ‘Greed Is Good’?”
“I Have a Dream” included the promise of racial and cultural equality under the notion that “people will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the strength of their character.”
“Greed Is Good” was the opposite, with the implication that people will be judged by their ability to turn a profit, period. That latter “ethic,” or lack thereof, would give rise to Donald Trump, among other things, so no wonder that something like character would have nothing to do with his ability to win support.
The future of this democracy requires that we examine the root of that distinction between the preachings of King and Gecko, and what transpired in our culture beneath the outward trappings to account for it. It obviously requires that we redress whatever caused it so we do not descend further down the pathway to hell that was marked by that sharp and swift moral decline in our culture.
Angry dogs howling to support that decline attempt to reduce the issue of morality to certain “do’s” and “don’ts” of personal tastes, such as being for or against abortion or homosexuality, without regard for contexts or nuances. But genuine morality operates on an entirely different level, having to do with kindness and empathy and not hard rules of right or wrong.
When we finally conclusively discover, or have revealed to us, the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in this universe, and I for one am convinced it is all around us albeit at what our physics currently measures as great distances, we will find that love and kindness drive their cultures, and not cruelty. There is simply no way that a cruelty-based culture can survive beyond the point of a very early demise.
The wonderful if perhaps a bit too pop astrophysicist Neil deGrass Tyson contends that while as a scientist he can’t speak definitively to the existence of intelligent life beyond this miniscule orb, he does point out that the basic elements of life as we know it are everywhere and in great abundance in our known universe. That points to the overwhelming likelihood that we on this planet are far from alone. Far from it.
Nonetheless, it must be stated from our own experience and the wonders of life on this planet that there is a destructive reality that we confront, and so it must also be so on a universal level. It is not fear, but downright cruelty.
We experience it in our lives personally and as a culture. It can be the object of proliferation, as it has. It was the conscious degradation of the human spirit and potential that was unleashed in the early 1970s in the U.S. to blunt progress in human rights and racial equality that accounted for the most recent decline here. The “sexual revolution” degradation of women was at its core.
It was only the latest version of the Industrial Revolution ruling elite’s assault on human social equality, justice and democracy over the last two centuries. Earlier versions included the massacre of half a million young American lives in defence of slavery duirng our Civil War, and the instigation of the Great War or 1914 and the extermination of 30 million young lives between countries (Britain, Germany and Russia) all ruled by extensions of the same royal family.
Trumpism is the modern representation of that impulse to cruelty, the opposite of love. Yet love, our hope, must survive still.