An Open Letter to Americans: No More Politics of Antipathy and Bitterness, We Desperately Need Space for Grace and Empathy

The pain is palpable and the pervasive anger that is in the air is understandable. At almost every turn, communities who feel marginalized and undervalued are up in arms as they seek redress with a visceral sense of urgency only to be met with abject indifference and a wall of injustice that seems immovable. Inertia giving way to antipathy, year over year the sense of frustration and rage grows only for society to walk further away from the redemption we keep asking for.

The same people who are getting pillaged by the status quo and whose lives are being made insufferable by immoral laws that enrich a few and impoverish many are turning on each other and bashing others who don’t look or think like them. This much is true, scarcity and hopelessness breed tribalism and we are seeing this very phenomenon metastasize in America and beyond as civility has transmuted into outright hostility.

Injustice begetting insults, the wounds of marginalized people and communities that have experienced deep abuses are being wielded by the ruling class to divide society. Every day, politicians, pundits and Hollywood celebrities keep tearing open the historical scars in order to profit while inducing strife in the process. Media personalities we think are speaking for us are actually perpetuating the status quo as they callously weaponize human suffering to further the very system that is producing global iniquities.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that”. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”.  Sadly, his sage observation is being lost on many as our social and political discourse has devolved into hurling insults and pummeling one another for sport. The more we lose our connection and dissolve communities by choosing virtual surrealism over reality, the more we abandon our ethos and grab on to our egos.

The end result is “divide and conquer” on steroids as America keeps getting sliced and diced into innumerable identities and ideologies. Race, gender, sexual orientation, religion et al have become powerful means of ghettoizing humanity as we focus on what we are and overlook who we are. We see injustice and instead of realizing that suffering doesn’t differentiate, we cast our rage upon others who are struggling just like us.

I too once thought like this, it was only seven years ago when I used to castigate all Republican voters and used to collectively judge white people for the ills of the world. Two and a half years of homelessness taught me—through untold tears and incalculable hardships—that someone who doesn’t resemble my complexion or share my outlook nonetheless experiences anguish. Witnessing a sea of humanity of all hues and sentiments indentured by poverty and hopelessness made me realize that one thing transcends all borders and binds us as one—pain.

I felt compelled to write this open letter as much for myself as I am writing it to the reader. It is easy to speak of grace and forgiveness in abstractions but much harder to practice it when wrongs are being committed against us. It’s only human to get defensive and to push back when we feel violated. Yet I know from personal experience how counterproductive wrath is; seeking vindication is the surest way to bypass redemption. When people transgress against us, even if we can’t forgive in the moment, the best thing we can do is to seek the high ground of gratitude because getting mired in the valley of vindictiveness will lead to a lifetime of bitterness.

To our demise, we are being convinced and conditioned daily to get angry, be confrontational and pummel one another. Bearing the weight of uncertainties and financial anxieties that grow faster than the inflation rate, we find it easier to berate others who are undergoing the same stresses we experience instead of working together to alleviate human suffering that abounds throughout the world. The more we protest through a sense of exclusion and feed into the divisions wrought by the establishment, the further we march away from justice.

Witnessing this level of antipathy that is tearing apart the fabric of society and realizing the toxic nature of “us versus them” thinking is the reason why I am running for Congress to represent Virginia’s 8th Congressional District. Instead of inciting the emotions of one side in order to demonize the other, my campaign is rooted in the belief that we can only overcome injustice if we are able to overcome our differences and realize the commonalities of our pains.

To this end, I will not bash people based on their identity or their ideologies and instead focus on solutions that will benefit all of us and hold the few who are purveying injustice accountable. We have to turn the page on the politics of personal destruction and instead travel towards a governance of upliftment and empowerment. We have tried grievance and rage for decades only to end up mired in pervasive hardships, for the sake of our redemption and our children’s future, let’s give love a chance.

We are at an inflection point as a country and as humanity writ large, we can continue down the path of greed, indifference and rage towards others who are being bracketed by the very same anxieties we are enduring or we can turn towards solidarity rooted in love. I choose the latter and I hope you join me as I campaign and advance the virtue of inclusive justice.

“The love we give away is the only love we keep.” ~ Elbert Hubbard