OPINION | Love Is Transformational


by Ruba Ayub


When you have suffered trauma your entire life, you become numb to the feelings of love and compassion. It’s easier to project your own self-hate onto others than to do the uncomfortable work to transform your behaviors and mindset to align with grace. We have all heard the phrase “hurt people hurt people,” but how can we transform pain from interpersonal and systemic traumas into accountability, healing, and growth? I don’t have all the answers, as I am still learning every day, but I hope my current view can help you imagine a better world where we can build systems of love and care rooted in compassion for one another to transform an individualistic, violent, and punitive society.

Growing up in an abusive, narcissistic household, I learned that love was hurtful and violent. For a man to beat his wife, daughters, and sisters was a form of discipline to show he cares. My family members institutionalized me to believe that their regular slut-shaming, emotional neglect, and verbal and physical abuse of women and queer children was because they cared about our future. Yet, I don’t completely blame my family for their violent actions, as there is a lot of harm-reductionist accountability work that needs to happen, but I also want to call out the racist, sexist, queerphobic, imperialist, and pro-capitalist systems for conditioning them into this way. Western settler colonialism’s systemic violence against my Muslim Punjabi and Kashmiri ancestors resulted in my people’s suffering from generational poverty, mental abuse, destruction of our Indigenous traditions, and exploitation of our resources and labor. White colonizers enslaved our people’s mindsets by conditioning t hem to their violent ways of racial capitalism. They oppressed our people by subjugating them to slavery, stealing our gold and resources, and leaving us poorer. The Indian subcontinent went from being one of the richest countries between the first and 18th centuries to the world’s poorest. According to Dr. Ayesha Khan, or @Wokescientist, “When we are born into oppression, raised in it, and socialized with values ​​to uphold and perpetuate it, we normalize it and struggle to even identify violence and brutality when they are right in our face.”

Under racial capitalism, the structure of the family has been used as a tool for social control which dictates what we should do, not do, and must have in our lives to be accepted in society. We learn heteropatriarchy, sexism, racism, anti- Blackness, anti-queerness, and the idea of ​​punishment from our families. Children are taught that if you mess up you end up on the streets or jail or other carceral institutions to get them to obey. The family structure isn’t any different than other carceral systems, as they both yearn for control over other people’s bodies. They both work hand in hand to serve the status quo of the rich, because people will always be oppressed under capitalism, as there is no empathy, compassion, or collective rights . Often in my family we never talk about our history because of our values ​​of “forgive and forget,” but I believe if we don’t know where we come from, how can we be truly liberated? The white man’s hateful, violent, and divisive tools have been conditio ned into us, and it’s up to the younger generation to actively decolonize our mindsets and way of living in this world.

My healing is a result of the endless support from community support groups that have helped me heal my wounds and transform my life. The support groups helped me understand that I am worthy even if I make mistakes. I grew more as I learned about systems of oppression designed to target my identity. I also grew more when I made mistakes and held myself accountable, by unlearning beliefs rooted in white supremacy. While this was uncomfortable, it was necessary.

I feel more grounded because of the love from community support groups who taught me that relying on punishment doesn’t change bad behavior or achieve justice. Instead, punitive tools only hurt people even more, repeating the cycle of hurt people hurting people, causing generational traumas and poverty. However, if we help transform people’s lives by meeting their needs, transformed people will make a more positive impact on those around them. In my experience, practicing grace within myself has enabled me to work toward building a world that is kind , just, equitable, forgiving, and compassionate for all, and does not rely on shaming and punishing people, but focuses on collective care, nonviolent strategies against violence, meeting the needs of the people, and centering those who are the most oppressed away from Racial capitalism mindsets.

That said, let’s work collectively as communities to keep each other safe, stable, and feeling worthy. I hope to work toward creating a world that is no longer about perpetuating hate, punishment, and social control, but instead promotes the strengthening of relationships and people. I wish to continue normalizing and repairing harm with accountability, forgiveness, healing, and LOVE.

Sending love and prayers to those reading.


The South Seattle Emerald is committed to holding space for a variety of viewpoints within our community, with the understanding that differing perspectives do not negate mutual respect amongst community members.

The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the contributors on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the Emerald or official policies of the Emerald.


Ruba Ayub is a cofounder of Youth Voices for Justice SKC and an organizer with Whose Streets Our Streets and is actively composing poems for an upcoming poem book.

📸 Featured Image: Photo by Benjavisa Ruangvaree Art/Shutterstock.com

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