Easy to be hard. Easy to be cold. Easy to say no.
The words just keep rattling around in my head - Easy to be hard. Easy to be cold. Easy to say no. They are some of the lyrics from the song "Easy to Be Hard" by Three Dog Night, a so-called Super Group from the 60's and early 70's. As a young man during that era, Three Dog Night and that song had a profound influence on me.
And, in light of the recent events perpetrated by the new administration, they seem even more powerful now then when I first heard them.
The song starts with a universal question: How can people be so heartless? Eventually, it gives the answer - because it's Easy to Be Hard.
This is a human conundrum. As love is universal, so is hate. And, with our complex and demanding world, it certainly seems more easy to be cruel than it is to be kind. They say that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. And, still, we ask, "why do we appear more ready to tear down than to build up? Why do we hurt as readily as we help"?
Because it's EASIER.
When something makes us angry, our impulse is to lash out. If someone strikes us, we want to hit back with even greater force. Should someone wrong us, we often want revenge as much as we want justice. This is human nature. It is part of our survival instinct.
To counter this instinct we must work at being AWARE. And, that takes work. We must calm our natural instincts in order to reach a higher level of understanding - one that leads us to compassionate thinking. Compassion is a most sublime human trait. It means to accept things without judgment and to help without fear of reprisal or consequence. This is much more easily said than done. Of course, our primary instinct is to survive. And, we will do whatever it takes to do so. This is understandable. However, this inclination often filters into simple situations that are far from dire. But, the mind that is unaware does not make the distinction. So, small, everyday events like someone cutting in front of us in line or simply saying something that we don't agree with can send us into a rage. It is our natural impulse to act this way. It takes awareness to combat it. And, that takes work.
It's EASY to BE HARD.
But, that doesn't make it right.
This is what concerns me so much about our current administration. Beyond the politics, much of which seems to defy explanation and, therefore, understanding, it's HOW and WHY things are being done that seems so HARD. The direction President Trump and his administration seem to be taking us in is one that looks far more at the negative impact of things rather than the positive. For example, immigration: siting National Security as the primary issue, Mr. Trump has issued an executive order seriously curtailing immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. His reasoning is that BAD people come from these BAD countries. However, there is NO hard evidence to support that claim. But, it's EASY to say that it is so and, thereby, allay the unfounded fears of much of our population. And, people WANT to believe that because it's EASY to. It's more difficult to take some time to truly analyze the complexity of this situation. It's easier to say that the majority of the terrorism in the world is perpetrated by Muslims than it is to see the broader picture that the GREAT majority of Muslims are non-violent and, in fact, contribute greatly to the overall good being done on our planet.
The rest of Mr. Trump's executive orders seem to follow suit. Build a wall so that those Damned Drug Dealing Mexicans can't come in! His orders prey on our insecurities: fear those who may be different. Avoid those we don't understand. Punish those who disagree.
Yes, it's Easy to Be Hard - if you let it. You have to work at being AWARE. It can take a lifetime to get there but it's worth the trip. I'm still working on it with a LONG way to go. But, at least I know that I am on the right path.