Love or Fear: The Choice That’s Facing America (and the World)

Sad lonely patriot woman sitting down with the american flag wrapped around her. Deployment military life and relationship concept

Love or Fear–what’s it going to be, America?

This has been a pretty brutal summer.

In the past seven days, we have seen the police kill two men in an incomprehensible manner. We have seen five police officers killed in cold blood in the line of duty. We have watched race relations disintegrate, anger and mistrust reach a fever pitch, and blame for the world’s problems being slung around like Halloween candy on social media pages.

Regardless of who you are, the unfortunate reality that we all share is that we are currently living in a world with far more questions than answers.

And, as a black man who writes about positivity, quite a few people have hit me up in the past few days to ask me for answers to these very tough questions.

Most of them were a variation of this one:

“The world is circling the drain right now. What can we do to make a positive change in the face of such unrelenting negativity?”

I have an answer.

The problem with my answer is that many people won’t have the guts, resilience and mental toughness to even try it once they hear what it is. Which is completely fine, because I’m not writing this for them anyway.

For the rest of us, read on.

Doing What’s Hard vs. Doing What’s Easy

The answer to all of our current problems (and every problem in our world’s history) comes down to one simple choice:

Choosing love over fear.

That seems so simple doesn’t it? That’s because it is. Unfortunately, its simplicity will cause many people to dismiss this as a woo-woo, head-in-the-clouds, mentally-soft delusion that will have no effect on the harsh reality of our current world.

Those people are dead wrong. There’s nothing “mentally-soft” or easy about choosing love.

Do you know what’s easy?

Fighting fire with fire. Making excuses and blaming others, while doing nothing to offer solutions. Using the events of the past few days as an excuse to further separate yourself from people who don’t look like you do, or think like you do. Choosing to judge an entire group of people (black people, police officers, white people, gay people, Muslim people, etc.) based on the actions of a few.

All of those actions are rooted in fear. This type of fear is created in the lowest and most primitive part of our minds, and it will consistently push us toward equally-primitive results (separateness, hate, and hopelessness)…if we let it. Where this type of fear exists, love cannot survive.

That’s what this is about. Love. Or more specifically, the courage to choose love.

Do you know what’s hard?

Being peaceful and caring instead of impulsively resorting to violence. Seeking to understand–or better yet, actually hang out with–people who are different from you, so that you can realize that you’re really not that different from them after all. Raising the level of thoughtful discussion online instead of being a “keyboard gangsta” by anonymously hurling hateful and ignorant comments at others like a coward. Diving headfirst into healing our world in any way possible instead of leaving this hard work for someone else to do for you.

That’s what love would do.

Is that what you would do too?

That’s what you need to answer, because here’s the reality that’s staring you in the face right now: there is no one else who can spread this love, besides you.

Fear Always Fails

If you’ve been watching the news for the past week and you think that more hate, more separateness, more apathy, more guns, more excuses, more insensitivity, more name-calling, more victim-blaming, more hopelessness, and more violence are the answers to our problems, then you need to come to grips with the fact that you are officially part of the problem that many of us working hard to fix.

And yes, your fear, is at the heart of it.

It’s okay to be scared. I’m scared too. It’s a frightening world that we live in. But here’s the deal–be scared if you need to be, but I’m asking you to snap out of it as quickly as you can so that you can find the courage to spread love and kindness as far and as wide as you can.

Fear has failed us.

  • Fear is what drives bully bosses to dehumanize their employees and systematically destroy their lives on a daily basis.
  • Fear is what keeps people stuck in a mediocre existence instead of going after their lifelong hopes and dreams before they die.
  • Fear is what keeps people stuck in soul-crushing relationships that they should have walked away from years ago.
  • Fear is the driving force behind every fight, war, form of abuse and practically every atrocity that this world has ever seen.
  • Fear is what will keep us from boldly standing up to a broken world by sharing love when no one else has the courage to do the same.

If there are any positives that I can take from the past week (and believe me, there aren’t many), it’s that it has reawakened many people to the destructive power of fear, and it has recommitted us to the urgency of addressing it with love.

Love or fear–everything starts from one of those two places. That much, we already know.

What we don’t know is how the story will end.

That’s because it’s up to us to write that story with our actions, starting today.

So, what’s it going to be America?

Your Turn

Does love have the power to solve America’s (or really, our world’s) problems? Jump into the comment section below and make your voice heard! 

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Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.

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  1. Catherine McNeill says:

    Fantastic article – beautifully written, profound and wise. Thank you.

  2. Shola, This is truly the best article I’ve seen on the subject. Just wonderful and so, so true. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this.

    • You are so welcome, Hannah! Thank YOU for the extremely high praise about the article :). Fingers crossed that the message of love over fear spreads far and wide, because there’s no doubt that our world really needs it right now.

  3. So true, Shola! Choosing love, compassion, forgiveness and understanding is the hard road. Blame, anger and violence is a lot easier. But the hard road is the only possible solution.

    I’m happy and honored to join you on this journey!!! Let’s do it!!!


    • Yes, Kathy! Rejecting the easy and temporarily-satisfying path of blame and violence will not solve our long-term challenges. Only love can do that. Thanks so much for standing with me, my friend!

  4. Terry Barton says:

    Fear is the hard choice for me. I can’t come from a place of fear, it takes too much energy.

    I come from a place of love; assuming the vast majority of people are just like me…trying to live life the best way they can.

    Bad people in whatever walk of life do bad things, we can’t control that. What we can control is our response to it and look for was to find commonality instead of difference.

    • So true, Terry–the key to happiness (and sanity) is to continually focus on the things that we’re able to control. Our response to hate and fear is definitely one of the things. That’s why it is so important to remember that, and ideally, act lovingly when faced with hate and fear.

  5. Shola, thank you for describing these problems for what they are (fear) and insisting that we can prevail with love. I hope everyone understands that love is not putting flowers in our hair and trying to wish our ideal world into existence. Love is action; I take your message today as a call to Positive Action. Look at two who peacefully achieved much for mankind: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Mahatma Gandhi. They were fighters (lawyers!), and they never gave up their peaceful, positive FIGHT. We must speak up, contact our elected representatives, hold them accountable, use social media, and be heard. We need to be as visible as the ones doing bad things, and we need to pursue our positive agenda just as relentlessly. Thank you Shola for not just saying positive words, but really standing up for positivity and love.

    • Yes, yes, YES Donna! Love IS action! Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela…the list goes on and on of the people who used love as action. And in doing so, they actively changed the world. The peaceful and positive fight is one that we need to join as well, and I honestly don’t even want to imagine the consequences for this world if we choose to do nothing. Thank you, as always, for a being a part of the solution.

  6. I really needed to hear this tonight. It’s so hard to not give in and try to fight the fear and hate with my own “righteous anger” instead of love. Always love.

  7. This is exactly right! It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, what religion you believe or don’t believe in, who you want to sleep next to at night, or who you are voting for. If you strip away all of these things, WE ARE ALL HUMAN AND WE ALL BLEED RED. We need to stop blaming the group of people you are afraid of knowing for what is going on. Instead, take a minute out of your day to do right and love. We need to stop hating and learn to love other people for who they are, not who we want them to be. Everyone sits around and talks about making a difference, changing the world, and loving people. Stop talking about it and DO something!

    “Fear-based living crushes joy, dismantles relationships, increases stress, and shortens life. Choose love.” ~ John O’Leary

    • Long time no see, Valisa! As always, you nailed it on the head. We are all far more similar than we are different, and it’s times like these where we need to remember it the most. I’m SO with you–the time for talking has long passed. It’s time for action now. By the way, I’m glad to see that your Q.Q. status (Quote Queen, to the uninitiated) is still intact!

  8. This writing, this attitude, and this expression of the difference between love and fear is what the world needs more of right now. This piece is not only beautifully written, it is important. People think of us positive thinking, love driven people as weak, when in reality nothing takes more strength than meeting fear driven violence or hatred with compassion and understanding. As humans we will only fix these problems if we are united, and to be united we MUST eliminate this unnecessary fear on all sides. Fear can clutch your heart and infect your mind if you let it, and refusing to let it take control is a beautiful revolution that could truly change the world!

    • Mona–your comment sincerely warms my heart. Thank you so much for stating so perfectly why leading with love takes a ton of strength. And sadly, it requires more strength than many people are willing (or able) to do when faced with hate and fear. This is a journey that we must take together, and as you said, the key is to eliminate unnecessary fear on all sides. It may not be easy, but we’re ready for the challenge!

  9. So spot on Shola! No matter race, color or country, all acts of violence and terrorism are crimes against humanity. We are all humans living in this beautiful planet, and we should all stand up and put an end to all these attrocities. We don’t need more shootings, we don’t need more lives to be lost, we don’t need more explosions and we certainly don’t need more wars. This is the time to speak up, to protest peacefully and to spread love that this world so much needs.

    John Lennon’s song “Give peace a chance” is ringing in my ears right now 🙂 Cheers!

    • Cheers to you too, Sofia! These are crimes against humanity, and I’m ready to stand up against these crimes. Not with wars, guns, or more fights–but with love. “Give Peace a Chance” is a perfect theme song for this movement. Let’s do it!

  10. Yes, it has been a rough emotional week. I completely agree with choosing love. Great post Shola! I haven’t commented in a while, busy wedding planning but I’m getting married this weekend so I should be back in the groove and commenting more regularly again soon 🙂

    • Right on, PhillyL! Hopefully when you read this comment, you will be a happily married woman :). Thank you for adding more love into the world, my friend!

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