Saturday, March 23, 2019

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, March 23, 2019 - Is There Really More Hatred?

I wonder about something. Is there really more hatred in the world now, or are we just seeing more of it? Because I am suspicious about things like hate. I am suspicious of the conclusion that seeing more hate means there are more people who feel hatred.

What does it take for you to be transformed from loving someone to hating them? What about from being welcoming to a whole group of people to excluding them? I realize that hate can be learned under certain circumstances, but are these those? The fact is, it’s quite difficult to change a person from one who is perfectly comfortable with the multicolored reality of humanity to someone who suddenly and violently resists it. Of course there are a few; there are exceptions to everything. But by and large, it is quite difficult to make a loving person into a hating one. This is mostly by virtue of the fact that love is easier, and once we find it, we tend to keep it.

What I’m proposing here is that hate may feel emboldened right now in our society for reasons that are almost entirely political, but that doesn’t mean there are greater numbers of people than before who feel racial, religious, or societal hatred. True, we are less safe from them right now than before. But my point is that this, too, shall pass. Every social study points to the idea that we are becoming an increasingly loving society with each generation. Over time, our lives become more inclusive and our culture more diverse. Every day we feel safer with recognizing the value of difference.

The reason it doesn’t feel like that quite yet is because right now the darkness has reached the saturation point of its tolerance over the steadily increasing amount of light in this world. It is fighting back. But it will not win. All the old strategies are mostly useless now.

For the sake of argument, let’s decide that there are 100 people in your town who are, by definition, racist. By way of a hypothetical example, I am proposing that once, not so long ago, 10 of those 100 racists in your town may have felt comfortable expressing their true feelings to a few people, mostly the like-minded. Today, however, for reasons that many might speculate, probably 75 of those 100 feel now comfortable expressing their truth, and not merely to the like-minded. In this scenario, there aren’t more haters, just more expressed hate. We see more of what was already there because if feels safer to come out.

Yet hate is like a cockroach which scurries into the corners when it sees the light. But what if, when that light is turned on, as an unintended consequence of flipping the switch, they all look around to suddenly realize there are more cockroaches than they even speculated? Those cockroaches, upon seeing greater numbers of their community than they had ever been previously aware, might not feel in quite such a rush to scurry back under the refrigerator. They might elect to stay out a stretch, feeling the power of strength in numbers, to instead feast, en masse.

But there are not more of them than before the light was first turned on. There were there all along. We just see more of them now, and they see each other. This is a dual-edged sword, of course. Seeing each other does give them a bit of encouragement and the perception of greater unity and strength. But it also exposes them to hard-soled shoes and crafty exterminators. Metaphorically speaking.

Of course I don’t mean to suggest that we kill all the haters. That will get us nowhere. We shouldn’t reciprocate the act of hating them in any way. It only encourages their false sense of strength. We will eventually figure this out. And what we will realize most is that the only thing which quenches the flames of hatred is love. As touchy-feely, tree-hugging, give-the-world-a-Coke this bit of psychobabble sounds, there is real wisdom behind it. The goal is to change the food source for the cockroach.

It is nearly impossible to convince people with words to love others. The only way it will ever happen is by having the haters see those whom they hate face to face, heart to heart, eye to eye. That has been and only ever shall be the way to create unity in this world. The Internet has begun to provide us with hints of that, which is why we see the fear we do today. We can’t hide from others anymore than they can hide from us. There are no more silos. This is good news.

Pray for those who hate. They are far worse off than you. Their pain is greater than yours. Their fear is enormous. Pray for their comfort, their peace and their understanding. It will come in time. I promise.

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