A Letter To Society

Some who read the post that follows this wanted to see the original letter I wrote. My only hesitation in publishing this is that I have always believed (even when I wrote this that Love is more powerful than Hate. Having said that here it is (slightly edited

Terry Sterrenberg – May 24th, 1969

While in Philadelphia I learned to identify an emotion that I had practically abolished from my existence. It was completely foreign to me and made me very uncomfortable. This was the emotion of hate. I learned to hate and I inherited the foundation for an enduring hate. And what I learned to hate, society, was you.

Yes society I hate you. I hate your money, the root of your indifference. I hate your technology because it is more important than your People. I hate your people because they blindly follow you, cop unconcerned about themselves and other people that they will never know who they really are. I hate them because they don’t strive to learn the truth. I hate them because they don’t act after they learn the truth. I hate them because they are you. I don’t like to hate . I just do.

I hate you but hate doesn’t make any difference. Hate does not change you. You’re like a baby throwing your food all over the floor and then asking for more. Eat and be nourished; and build strong muscles, for if you don’t you will starve and die. I hate you but it makes no difference, because. you see I am part of you. I make you what you are. Hating you is to hate me as well.

Why is it that people are so unimportant? Because I want a new car and a nice house People are unimportant. I hate my new care but I want it just the same. Why do I ask “Who is that person before offering my hand. Because I’m scared; scared of you, oh society, scared of you! I need you, you monster. I need you for my self. I need your greed and your technology. But society, what is their priority on life. I need your People most of all. I need your people. There is a void in me until they fill it and make me whole. I need you society. Let me know your People. Let me know your People. I don’t like to hate. Let me know your People.

And society don’t betray. Let me know your People. Could it be that I want a utopia where people strive to understand each other – a utopia where I can call you my friend. Utopias live only in hopes and dreams. Tell me, my teacher, what else is there to drive me on? Idealistic dreams are my salvation. They let me see you in new clothes toddling playfully about without spitting back. But balloon dreams explode at the hand of reality and I am suffocated by the poisonous gas of hate inside and I realize that my fantasies are merely masks hiding the grotesque features that are really yours. You monster, society! I hate you.

You haunt me. I cannot get away from you because I am indeed part of you, a strand of hair, a lonely tear, an ingrown hair, or perhaps an itchy finger wanting desperately to tear off your cotton swabs and bandages, freeing your diseased skin to the coolness of air in preparation for a new kind of treatment. You selfish demon! You coward! I am scared of you, but you are scared of me too. I don’t believe in you. I hate you and hate in the least can “motivate” change. Oh, yes change; Change in me and I AM part of you. I can be me. In the mist of your construction of me I can say “Stop! Let me do it! Let me construct me. Let ME love; Let ME think: let ME feel”, for to love, to think, to feel is to be human. I need you. But society, you also need me, to shout from the tallest roof tops. “Stop! Let me do it.”

You are a baby; and I am your mid-wife. Strange, I thought it was the other way around. You need my love to grow. Let me love you. And I need you too. Let me know your People and let your people know me. I don’t want to hate . I just do.;

But you conspire, you dragon of deceit. You hide traps in your scheme for human betterment, dictating a pseudo righteousness built on a ledge of self preservation like a giant maze, a great puzzle to solve, a path to follow. And the maze of righteousness soon becomes a web to catch and to keep. The ropes become tighter and “human ears” b ecome deafer. But some will hear and fight. Some will begin to shout for themselves detering themselves forever from the utopias of balloon dreams and saving themselves from your conspiracy to make them stagnant shells of human potential. While others will get away only to be caught in their own web of pride and confusion

You need me for your enemy, you monster. Otherwise you would surely die. You need me to nag you on. you need me to force you to walk forward and analyze your signals. You need me to hate you.

and for this

I shall l remain

Terry Louis Sterrenberg

Letter to Society

Terry Sterrenberg

December 19, 2023

In In May of 1969 when I was 21.  I wrote a paper I called “A Letter to Society”.  I had just come back from a life changing experience in Philadelphia.  This was an urban semester  away from my College DePauw University in Greencastle Indiana. I grew up in a small Illinois town of only 10,000 people, so living in the city was traumatic in a good way (life opening).  My life was shaken at its roots as was my mid western value system which was very tight and meaningful for me.  I grew up in a liberal Methodist religious tradition with a primary focus on Social action.  I also grew up feeling it was better to be quiet than to say something “not nice” to someone.  Yes indeed  Hate was something I thought I had extinguished from my self. That semester I became aware of my feeling of Hate.  

My initial thought in writing today was that perhaps it was time to rewrite that letter from my present  life.  I don’t know if that is possible or even desirable.  That letter really stands on its own. Perhaps a new letter is called for. So here goes.

Hey Society, when I went to Philly I learned to hate.  And what I learned to hate was you.  Since then I have learned some things but you know what, I still hate you.  Particularly in today’s world where your goodness is being diminished and your people are pretending not to care and feel powerless.  I really do hate you.  You have  created alternative realities that make lying and deceit an acceptable strategy to get what  a person wants in the world.  And you have created a world where  facts and truth  are too easily ignored in making decisions.  I hate you for this.  I don’t like to hate I just do.   You have made fear a primary deterrent for Truth. People stop looking and become shells waiting to be filled with “facts” that support only their own self interests, perceptions, and beliefs.

Fear overwhelms me and becomes the dark kernel at the center of my Hate.  I don’t like it.  I Hate it even more than Hate itself can generate.  It makes even the greatest hope seem like nothing more than a possibility.  

Let me ask you, “Are you the one that determines who I am, what I feel, and what I do?  Or is it the other way around, ie that I determine who you are, what you feel, and what you do?  Even in the worst of times,  I can and must continue to say, “Stop!  Let me do it,” I know you still need that from me and you always will. It may not look the same at 76 that it did at 21 because over the years I have learned to love you as well as Hate you. And I love  your people.  We have fought  many battles, you and I out of hate and out of love.  You need to practice your listening skills and I need to upscale  my speaking skills.  I often think “Not may years left.  Perhaps in another lifetime. “ 

Still I need you to respond now!  I need your integrity intact!  So that I can trust my own intuition.  So I can intuit your signals for change.  So I can interpret  your changes as direction signals for promise and hope.  We are partners, you and me.  Our mutual survival makes life whole.