OUR world is unraveling. From east to west, from south to north, no part of the world can escape unscathed the destructive storm that sweeps across it.
Obviously, the reasons behind this appalling state are too great to be enumerated here. However, one specific attitude is playing too great a major role to be ignored. People are generally attuned to the negative. They tend to see the bad before they see the good. They tend to focus on the mistakes, instead of the good acts. They tend to stick to bad memories instead of the good ones. This tendency to be attracted to the negative, to wallow in self-pity, to choose darkness over the light, to see the glass half-empty instead of half-full, brings only more suspicion, more darkness and more hatred to our world.
Pulitzer Prize nominated poet Maya Angelou once wisely explained: “Hate, has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” This is all too true, but surprisingly, the people of the world seem to be determined to make the same mistakes over and over again and never attempt to try a different route.
Even on the Internet, most people freely allow this bad side of their souls to pour out in waves. They castigate each other with negativity, doubts and skepticism in their comments, in their interpretation of developments, in their view of each other. They don’t even stop for one second to think of the possibility of goodness existing in a situation they so hatefully approach.
The interesting thing is that most of the time, we are encouraged to feel this way. Starting from our childhood, we are taught about ‘our friends and foes’ with tales of history explaining how ‘the others’ wronged us, and those feelings are only reinforced as we grow older and we continue to be subjected to the same kind of polarizing news. From reports of ‘others’ supposedly violating our rights, to the seemingly normalization of vilifying and insulting celebrities openly on media, an average person is constantly showered with a dose of negativity, skepticism, and hatefulness, turning him into a hunter on the prowl: Ready to pounce and destroy.
So what happens as a result? Starting at the bottom, this soul of hostility spreads and turns into clouds of hatred between communities, countries, world leaders and exacerbates the existing problems, as if our world needed any more of that.
God advises us against this frame of mind in the Holy Qur’an: “My people, why do you hasten toward evil rather than something fine? If you only sought forgiveness from God, you might find some mercy.” (Qur’an, 27:46)
Human beings are valuable creatures. With a valuable soul that carries the breath of God, each of them is important. Each person matters. Each individual has a conscience that constantly calls to the good and a lower self that constantly calls to evil. Which side wins determines the goodness of that person. By approaching each other with love, with forgiveness and with a positive outlook, we can help each other bring out the goodness.
We are human; we make mistakes but we are capable of correcting them, too. We can be reasoned with. If we approach each other with love, with understanding, empathy and kindness, we’ll see that almost every human being is a soul in need of love and understanding and can be reasoned with.
John Steinbeck, an American writer, once explained this concisely. He said, “Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.” It is true. Except for extreme cases, or except for those with profound psychological problems, almost every human being will turn out to be a good person that is open to love and understanding. Once we approach each other without doubts but with a determination to understand, forgive and love, we’ll see that many of the things that previously angered us had valid reasons: And even at times when they don’t, why not choose to forgive and take the higher ground?
Even the science backs ‘forgiveness.’ According to a study, if you can bring yourself to forgive and forget, you are likely to enjoy lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and a drop in the stress hormones circulating in your blood, studies suggest. Back pain, stomach problems, and headaches may disappear. And you’ll reduce the anger, bitterness, resentment, depression, and other negative emotions that accompany the failure to forgive.
Also in a 2001 study, Charlotte VanOyen Witvliet, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Hope College, monitored the physiological responses of 71 college students as they either dwelled on injustices done to them, or imagined themselves forgiving the offenders.
“When focused on unforgiving responses, their blood pressure surged, their heart rates increased, brow muscles tensed, and negative feelings escalated,” she says.
“By contrast, forgiving responses induced calmer feelings and physical responses. It appears that harboring unforgiveness comes at an emotional and a physiological cost. Cultivating forgiveness may cut these costs.”[i]
So is it surprising that depression and stress-related problems are so common in the world today, when almost everyone seems to think that suspecting, disliking and being selfish is the way to go? This is the not the world God wants for us. God wants us to love and forgive each other. This is what our souls need and this is the only way we can live happily. If we go against the making of our soul, try to fight our nature, which is made to love and forgive, it will be us that will suffer. So let’s make a resolution: Let’s see each other as human beings created by our all-loving God. Let’s forgive each other for our mistakes. Let’s not get carried away by anger, hatred and negativity. When everyone starts to make this change in themselves, the world will no doubt transform into a more beautiful and more peaceful place for everyone.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arab News & News Rescue: