If All You Need Is Love, We Sure Could Use More

January 30, 2023

What has become of us and our ability to be kind? When did we become randomly cruel to people we do not know because we have a keyboard at our fingertips?

What makes people turn indifferent to the feelings of others? What makes us hate anyone not like us or with whom we disagree? Or whose appearance we don’t like?

It’s so easy now to target someone, especially on social media. Having been a target myself, I know how it feels to be set upon by people who know nothing about you except what might be public or what they think they know because they watch you on television. Everybody has an opinion: how you look, speak or write. It all becomes fodder for meanness because you are in the public eye.

I have been told things about myself that would curl your hair. Were any of these comments true or even made in the form of constructive criticism; meant to elevate the discourse in our little social communities or the work I do? Nope; just a new and improved form of cruelty; one with no consequences as people hide behind their screens and send their poison-pen comments.

As a public figure (not public property: look up the difference), I stand at a distinct disadvantage. If I comment back in a negative way; defend myself strongly, I get called out as one “faithful fan” put it as “unable to take criticism.” I don’t consider being told to “get cancer and die” a criticism; I don’t consider being called ignorant or uninformed criticisms. I don’t consider meanness to be constructive.

Unfair? You bet it is.

Our modern culture loves nothing more than to stand tall because “we told them!”

What does this meanness achieve? Do any of these keyboard warriors ever consider what their comments might do to someone? Studies show that a person suffering cyber-bullying is 1.9 times more likely to commit suicide. They are at the mercy of these mean, petty people who think that they are either clever or smart; funny or better than everyone else.

They are none of these things. They’re small in mind and stature. Does that make their insults and barbs sting any less? It does not. For me personally, I feel a bit…gutted at each negative comment thrown my way. After all, I am not controversial; I am not political. I am simply a television chef who hopes to help people to have a better relationship with healthy eating. And I happen to be a vegan (big target on my back; I know).

My teacher, Michio Kushi said years ago that people’s behavior was the result of the food they chose to eat. He said people behaved hatefully because they didn’t eat enough vegetables and the chemicals in processed foods and the hormones in meat were altering their brain chemistry. I rolled my eyes at what I considered to be an overly simplistic solution to this seemingly complex problem.

Fast-forward to now: 30 years later and let’s just say that I have seen some things that make me think Michio was not so simplistic after all. With what I know about food and its impact on our physical, mental and spiritual wellness, I see things differently.

Am I saying that if everyone had access to fresh plant-based food and ate well that we would all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya?” Not at all…but wait…am I saying that?

My many years in macrobiotics, nutrition and Traditional Chinese Medicine have taught me that giving food power in our wellness isn’t crazy. It is, in fact the foundation upon which we build our wellness. And without wellness, we can’t build a healthy or compassionate society.

I do believe that if we just paid attention; if we saw each other and realized we are all human, regardless of color, creed, beliefs, politics, religion, sexual orientation, eating habits, we would realize that we are in this together. We would see that we need each other and life is better when we realize that, at its best, it’s one big collaborative art form.

Perhaps…just perhaps, before you hit the ‘send’ or ‘post’ button, read what you wrote and be sure you want to send that message. Be sure that you absolutely know what the person receiving that comment is going through. Be sure that you absolutely know that you won’t ruin their day (or worse) with your “clever” snide remarks. Be absolutely sure you are not sending your ugly little comment at a time of crisis in their life. Since you can’t know any of this absolutely about someone you don’t know personally, be prepared to wear guilt like a scarlet letter when you hurt someone, if you are capable of feeling guilt.

But most of all, since thinking of other people’s feelings is obviously low on your list, consider how you would feel if you saw that comment on your page about how you look or speak or write or engage with people.

Bill Maher often says that humans are awful people. I disagree with that. I still have hope for us. Most of the people with whom I engage are lovely, charming, kind, truly funny and they make my day. We must begin to realize that we are all one tribe and that lifting each other up, not tearing each other down is the only way to live life to its fullest.

John Lennon famously said, “All you need is love.” I would add…and good food shared together. Let’s work to make the world a kinder, gentler place. We can do it. We can think twice before posting an insulting comment. We just have to want love more than cruelty, hate and intolerance.