Milk and honey have different colours, but they share the same house peacefully.

  • African proverb

One of the most defining moments of my admittedly short writing career came on December 20th, 2014 when I received my first death threat from a reader. The threat, received via email, was in response to an article I had written which drew comparisons between religious intolerance and a criminological model known as the Broken Windows Theory. Throughout the post, I suggested that the constant defamation of an ideology through misrepresentation and bigotry damages an individual’s perception of a subculture, and creates a rift in our society.

To illustrate my point, I spoke of the Islamic faith and the unjust insinuation that it is a religion defined by violence. I compared acts perpetuated by extremists as stones hurled through the windows of a beautiful monument in an attempt to damage its image and cheapen its perceived worth. At the time, I believed that what I had produced was ground breaking. The piece was my first attempt at blogging about issues far greater than my own, so I saw the influx of hate mail that I received from readers as a sign that I had struck a chord in the hearts and minds of my audience.

These days when I look back at what I wrote, I realise that whilst my intentions were pure, my message of peace and love was lost amongst a violent analogy of shattered glass and social disorder. The end of 2014 was a chaotic time in my life; I was treading water in an endlessly deep ocean of anxiety and despair, and I probably shouldn’t have attempted to write what I did. Nor should I have responded to the threats against my safety with an acid tongue and a willingness to protect my beliefs with bloody hands. By lashing out at those who refuted what I believed, I undermined my own message and became another wedge driven into a fracture between subcultures.

I have never been one to retract a statement that I have made on this site. I have never tried to apologise for expressing myself during my lower moments, or asked for a second chance at a piece that failed to hit its intended mark. But I’m not the same writer that I was in 2014. I’ve grown a hell of a lot since then. I have learned about who I am, what I aspire towards, and that I’m no longer afraid of being wrong.

So, almost three years after receiving a tirade of threats and abuse from readers, I’m ready to acknowledge that if I had my time over, I wouldn’t write a passive aggressive post about broken windows and intolerance like I did. Instead, I would write about milk and honey. And I would speak of how despite their difference in colour, they can still share the same house peacefully.


When you strip back much of the hate that consumes us and examine the world with some objectivity, you begin to realise just how pathetic and illogical our prejudices towards our fellow man or woman truly are. We often hate because we fail to understand; conjuring up divergences and fears where there are none. And we disparage because we are insecure or frightened of our own position within the universe, beliving that the belittlement of others will allow us to prosper.

But the truth is that while some of us may choose to vilify or trivialise based on sexual orientation, religious creed, or ideological beliefs; we are all connected. And we are all human. It really doesn’t matter whether you are a man or woman; Christian, Muslim, Atheist or other. Nor if you are a heterosexual, transgender, or whether you have fallen in love with a member of the same sex. Or even if your skin is white, brown, yellow or black. When you take away all the bullshit labels, you are a human being; and you matter just as much as anyone else does.

Although we all have our lapses and moments of intolerance towards others; there is no one in this world who should ever feel less valued or appreciated than those around them. If someone does make you feel that you are unimportant, or that you are of a lesser worth than they are, then they’re wrong. It doesn’t matter what their reasoning for doing so is, or even how abhorrent their words or actions may be. There is no fault with who you are, the colour of your skin, or what you choose to believe in. The fault lies in the fucked-up logic and closed-mindedness that prevents them from seeing that perhaps you are the milk to their honey; or vice versa.

It’s at this point where a younger version of me would have flown into a tirade of insensitive nonsense and expletive comments about fighting against the closed-mindedness of others. I would have called myself a wolf and talked about baring fangs, tearing out throats and fighting fire with fire. But I’m not going to do that. Not this time. Whilst I still consider the threats that I received for writing Broken Windows to be some of my proudest achievements as a writer, I’ve learned that there is nothing be gained from becoming the very thing you seek to condemn.

To fly into a rage about bigotry and cultural prejudice would be to speak from a place of hate. Since writing Broken Windows, I have been called a lot of things. Some readers continue to take offence to the idea that I choose to believe in people rather than constructs. They cannot fathom that although I am far from perfect, I try to accept the idiosyncrasies that make each of us perfectly imperfect and wholly unique. Others still have accused me of promoting dangerous ideals, or questioned my sexuality for publishing posts such as Honey.

I used to be angered by the ignorance of others. When someone questioned who I thought that I was I would respond in vulgarity, believing that I had the ability to change someone’s opinions by berating them into submission. But almost three years after my first attempt at promoting cultural acceptance, I don’t carry the same anger that I once did. Nowadays I feel sadness for those who just can’t seem to grasp the concepts of equality and human compassion.

I have learned to feel pity towards the chauvinist who believes that women are beneath him; disappointment for the religious man or woman who ignores the teachings of acceptance they aspire towards whilst tearing down the beliefs of others. And to feel heartbroken for those who believe that the purity of love should be restricted to that between a man and a woman. Because when we close ourselves off to the possibility that the beliefs, ethnicity, orientation or compulsions of another person matters, we lose the piece of ourselves that could have grown through understanding their thoughts, feelings and experiences.

We shouldn’t hate those that are different. We should embrace them, learn from them, and understand that we can share the same house peacefully. Without diversity, the world would be a horribly mundane place. So, if you are someone who struggles to accept people who are different: try. Try to open your heart and mind to the idea that we are all connected, and that we are all equally important. If you do, you just might learn something new, or even help to make the world a better or safer place.

Love is love. Human is human. And regardless of what some may wish to believe; we are equal. We are all valued. And we all connected.

Author: Chris Nicholas

Chris Nicholas is an author from Brisbane, Australia. He has published two novels, and is currently working on his third.

32 thoughts on “Elysian”

  1. Hello Chris,
    I haven’t seen the post you mentioned, but I get the picture. I was born in Brazil, and there, there are three things you shouldn’t go blindly discussing with everyone: politics, football and religion. I grew up there, so I learned from an early age never to broach the topics. Now, as a Muslim living In Palestine, I will assume you based your post in what you see in the news. But the reality is, it’s a conflicted zone, a war between two opposing civilizations (not opposing religion) . While we Arabs and by Arabs I mean the Catholics, Christians and Muslims, have rocks, the other parties have sub machine guns, tanks and attack helicopters. No, I don’t think it was right for you to receive threats by posting your opinion, but I think someone should have tried to explain where you guessed wrong, enlightened you to our beliefs, even if at the end you still believed what you believe. I am sorry for the scare you felt.

  2. Reblogged this on Peter's pondering and commented:
    This post by Chris Nicholas is well worth reading (right to the end!)

    If you are someone who struggles to accept people who are different: try.
    You just might learn something new, or even help to make the world a better or safer place.

    Love is love. Human is human. And regardless of what some may wish to believe; we are equal. We are all valued. And we all connected.

  3. It occurs to me that we writers are self-reflective and that shows in our work. It is just part of the process that our words and ideas change as we grow and develop. You are too hard on yourself. I am not sure why we, as humanity, cling to our differences, but it is tragic. My son, white and Christian, married his love of three years, who is black and Muslim. Both immediate families stand by them, but receive a lot of flack. “The heart knows what it wants” is what her mother responds, but I can see the pain of always having to defend her daughter on her face. We need to keep writing and re-examining this issue until there is sense to be made.

  4. This is a beautifully honest post. I think a lot of people will appreciate the fact that you have shown how your approach to this topic has changed, because of you can do it, what is stopping them from changing their own ideals?
    Many people think that our words make no difference to the world, but I choose to believe otherwise. If just one person who feels prejudice towards another, whether that be and individual or a whole community, reads this and begins to open their hearts and minds to others… well, that is another step towards a better world.

  5. Thank you for sharing this Chris. I am not shocked by inhumanity, depravity, and viciousness of many people expressed by words or overt acts of violence. On the other hand, the love, generosity, and trust that others experience expressed in a marital relationship, care for homeless or orphans, respect for the outdoors, and care for animals indicates the positives that humans can achieve,

  6. I appreciate your reflection, but / and at the same time, there’s never any reason to make death threats (although I get threats of violence, too, even though I write about a totally trivial topic).

  7. The reason why the negative aspects in this world are outweighing the good is because too many of us view “being different” as one of those negative aspects. Whether it’s differences in religion, politics, race or lifestyle, we condem what we don’t agree with. I understand that this world consists of a good/evil balance. Some evil is needed to appreciate the good, however bullying/ death threats due to a disagreement with another’s outlook is unnecessary. We thrive of of differences, they cause us to learn and grow. Differences connect us.

  8. Thank you for such a beautiful post and all the others too. You are a very good writer. The way you express emotions and thoughts touches one heart, and that is Art for me. And this is how you change the world.💕

  9. Nice piece Chris. Much wisdom here on many levels.
    This is a message all people need to see. And you should be commended for sharing your growth and refecting on your previous, less skillful, if you will, approach. That takes courage.
    I think I am the milk, but love the honey. : ) And I say, yes we all are connected.
    Peace to you.

  10. Thank you for sharing this and for your honesty. I could not agree more with what you say and I am touched by the beauty of your message. Timely as well it is.

  11. You are well up on the ladder of “understanding”. Your readers and you if you haven’t already, enjoy the TV special, “Genius, the life of Albert Einstein”……one of the smartest people to have ever lived had a very hard time communicating what he knew and felt to “the masses”.
    When we understand the nature of the Universes, we realize that all “matter is connected”…..not just people and not one minute piece is better or less than another.

  12. Dear Chris,

    Sometimes things cross my path at the oddest times. Elysian led me to Broken Windows and then wandering on through several other posts among your archive. As someone slightly more than twice your age, I am humbled by your relentless output. I’ve caught on that sometimes that has not been at all easy.

    I also began to write a novel in my twenties. At the time, I’d just lost my eyesight. Eventually, “everyone” wanted to help me get on with life. “You’re a writer, Charlotte,” Everyone said. “Get on with it, then.”

    There are many reasons it didn’t work. Writing academic papers was bad enough. Trying to use a tape recorder to write a novel was soul sucking. Years went by. A handful of incomplete draft novels now live on my hard drive. They bicker in my mind like old codgers with incomplete memories.

    With this weird blog that I have so recently started, I am coming to a new appreciation of those who have kept at it for years. I’m not finding it easy at all.

    Returning to Elysian and Broken Windows, you take on tough, tough topics. But you let the old writing and the new come to the table. You let the person you were sit in with the person you are becoming. Tolerance and the lack of it, religion in all its frailties came, too. Then you invited all the rest of us to come on in and sit a spell. Oh! And there’s the honey, a bit sticky on the bottom, and the milk. 2% fat? Whole fat? I’m betting you’d let every kind of milk have a place.

    So…while doing some research this morning…I came across something identified as a Jewish proverb. I googled around and I think that’s true. It sounded so familiar, I was sure you had mentioned it. So I re-read Elysian and Broken Windows, including the comments.

    “If God lived on Earth, people would break his windows.” — Jewish proverb

    It’s sad. It speaks to human suffering and questions. Yet–for me–it also suggests the possibility that God is in the house, at that table with us. Every house. Every table. Even when we don’t know it or don’t care. And–again, for me–there remains the possibility that we will leave off breaking windows.

    Thank you, Chris. I ought to write more and read less, but your stuff makes that hard.

  13. Hi Chris. It’s an amazing experience to see in hindsight our younger, even slightly, self, right? I do admire your character. You are a fantastic person. There are not many who can admit that perhaps they have not been somewhat or completely wrong… I do my best to be mindful and I’d like to think that I improve every day. I did realize that it was better to not be angry. Looking from a different perspective, like you, I saw that pity and sorry replaced anger. I was pleased with myself. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if feeling sorry for another because of the person’s ignorance and narrow-mindedness is, in fact, better. Anger and violence are a no-no, true. But, have you also thought that maybe there’s a hint of condescension from our side? Maybe it’s only me because I make myself feel better by my smugness and thought that “I am better than you because I can see what you cannot see and I won’t stoop down to your level so there…!” It’s my compensation. I do know that compassion is a good thing. I guess I should just make sure my compassion isn’t masked superiority to cope with my own demon that is inferiority complex and feeling of inadequacy.

  14. Hi there. Thanks for taking the time to like (and perhaps read) my recent post, I’m new to WordPress and am looking to get involved, read new perspectives, etc. I’ve not been in any volatile situations such as you described, but I have begun trying to be more tolerant with friends, family & acquaintances who don’t share the same views as myself. It isn’t necessarily differences of huge societal and cultural problems, but I’ve started to be more aware of a need for me to be more communicative, patient and understanding with those close to me.

  15. Thank you, Chis, for this very interesting post.
    You say that without diversity, the world would be a horribly mundane place.
    I couldn’t agree more. As the French say, “Viva la difference”
    Cheerio, Uta 🙂

  16. nicely said Chris… I’ve just written about the inequality of life in Mumbai developing an angry draft from five years ago. I’ve removed a lot of the anger, and throw things in for conjecture, but it’s still quite heavy in a series of writings that are more lighthearted.

    I was interested when you say that now ‘I would write about milk and honey’, and am going away to think how I might do that with Mumbai.

  17. I stopped reading at [ ‘no longer afraid of being wrong’ ] because that was so poignant it needed to stick. Today is a brilliant day to keep that in mind:
    ”no longer afraid of being wrong’ <~~~ brilliantly put.

  18. As you know the only cure for hate is love. It’s too easy to allow fear to run us and to take over the dialog (as you found out). I struggle with my fears every day, it’s the fear of losing any chance at a peaceful world. It’s hard to stay centered on the message of love when there’s hate all about you. And it’s hard not to succumb to hating hate. But I think you’re on the right track. Peace be with you.

  19. When you really take a moment to think about it, we are simply brains housed in human suits attempting to understand other brains housed in human suits. Those who want to be better communicate brain to brain, while others just see the human suit….

  20. Well said, but the threats weren’t appropriate and such responses are infantile. This is a marketplace of ideas and no one is compelled to read or agree. A civil discourse can always be appreciated and we can all learn from that. Threats only reflect ignorance, fear and rabid intolerance

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