I woke up this morning, and peered through sleepy eyes at a world that I assume is patiently awaiting my arrival. I pulled my pajamas off and poured my body into my clothes. Still a child by definition, and full of wonder and hope, I hug my mother goodbye and walk out the door.

But, someone forgot to tell me that the world hates me. For the color of my skin and the religion I practice. Someone forgot to tell me that I wasn’t worth the air I breathe, and that the skin I’m wrapped in is wasted. They forgot to tell me that my gender wasn’t equal and those I choose to love, aren’t acceptable. Someone forgot, until today.

Today the children at school began to give me clues. Words of contempt dripped from their lips, where the juice of an innocent popsicle once was, only a few short years ago. Angry eyes, and gestures of hate replace the eyes of curiosity and the uninhibited affection of children. It’s as though they’ve made their mind up about me, like they know something about me that I don’t. Children are not born with the innate ability to decipher emotions in that capacity. Instead, hate is learned. From those closest to them, those they look up to….watch, and listen. They pick up their social cues, from respect and manners, to balled fists and demeaning terminology. I’ve never met a 3 year old that inherently knew the word “sand maggot”. I’ve never seen a 6 year old girl, skip down the street singing “kill the gays”. And I’ve never met a teenager that carried the flag of white supremacy without a direct, and close tie, sharing and encouraging their beliefs.

The problems of societal bigotry, were spawned decades ago.

There is cataclysmic growth and prosperity of the bacteria called hate, that feeds on our fear, and it will only continue to expand as our ability to connect and communicate diminishes. Our rotting society will continue to decay, as those who hate become those who are hated, and those who are hated become those who believe the haters are right.

If I retaliate with hate, it will be out of fear. I will find it necessary to protect my feelings, my family, my God, and my world. I will look at the perpetrator and assess their weakest spots, where words will cut them, the way that they have cut me. And in the process of war, I will become the very thing I fear the most. Them.

I refuse to become them.

The poison in their veins was injected by those that are supposed to love them and help them grow as humans. Not by me. The hate they feel isn’t towards me, but a direct response to fear, learned fear.

I found out today, that hate is only an illusion. That it’s impossible to be hated by someone you’ve never trespassed against.

I learned today that all human behavior is dictated by one of two things, love or fear.

I’m am not a victim of consequential action, I have done nothing wrong. I’m simply the closest target of their terror.

But if you must fear me, the way a child fears sleeping in the dark and their first day of school, or the way an adult fears loneliness and death. Just know, at the end of the day, when you pull off your clothes, and pour yourself into your pajamas, terrified of a world you don’t understand, I will be here ready to connect and communicate the things that scare you the most, so you can sleep at night. Fearless, and full of acceptance.

The world hates no one. It is simply too afraid to understand.

I am not to be feared. I will make my decisions based on love; my meager attempt to put out this fire with the moisture of a kiss.

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