Hate crimes are occurring with such frequency that we, as a society, seem to have developed an immunity, an acceptance of aberrant acts as being the norm. I feel compelled, therefore, to address the act of HATING as being a dangerously significant psycho-social threat and dilemma of our times.
I question, along with many of you, much of what is happening in our world today. I wonder, as well, however, about the root causes for the hatred that appears so rampant? At what point, for instance, did we develop a collective tolerance for intolerable acts of cruelty? When, if ever, did we stop paying attention to those amongst us who show signs of being anti-social, anti-Semitic, anti-Hispanic, anti-gay, anti-liberal, anti-conservative, anti-poor, anti any minority or any persons who don’t think or behave as we do? And when we do take note, how many of us take action? Who, for instance, challenged James von Brunn, a known bigot who made his hateful opinions public knowledge, as was his constitutional privilege, but then turned his hatred into murder?
Perhaps you have noted, as I have, that the very people who perpetuate hate crimes are those who lack the insight and wisdom to understand their own prejudices/fears/ likes and dislikes for anyone who does not share their race or religion or who does not agree with their views and expresses opinions they cannot tolerate because they do not resonate with their own rigid sense of moral superiority. To such people hatred is a comfortable - albeit in my opinion- sick bed-fellow. And though hatred may be a very human emotion, need it be one that any of us opts to act upon when all too often those who suffer the most are innocent of any crimes perpetrated against them? They are the victims of hatred. Victims of those who tend to be ego-maniacal, power-hungry individuals who care nothing about the well-being of others and everything about the well-being and preservation of themselves. More often than not, in fact, the very people who are self-proclaimed haters are also the people who – whether consciously or not – are filled with self-loathing which they then project onto others.
These are also the people who lack the ability to experience and express a wide range of emotions, not least of which is the capacity to LOVE. So what they are left with is a keen ability to hate, because hating is easy. Much easier than loving and far less challenging. To hate one merely has to select a vulnerable target, aim one’s hatred at that target and enjoy the rewards that come from destroying their perceived enemy. Unfortunately, though, in the wake of their destructive acts, they also succeed in helping to destroy the very fabric of any civilized society.
To love, on the other hand, brings with it a responsibility towards others as well as an appreciation for one’s self. The primary bonus of knowing what it is to love is to experience the sense of wonder and awe at being alive and appreciating the luxury of living life in a manner that adds to healthy personal relationships and, if possible, adds as well - in whatever ways our individual talents permit – to the progress of mankind.
In the global arena, it seems to have taken the election of a President Obama for us to recognize the absolute need to dialogue not only with our allies but with our admitted enemies? Yet, after the fact, it seems that many are now questioning, I fear, that dialogue implies actions which ultimately will be self-defeating and weak, a relinquishing of our core commitment to freedom and justice. Are we missing the point that if we continue to live in a world where hatred is tolerated we will be living in a far more dangerous world than one in which the causes for such hatred are not addressed? Surely, there are no guarantees that reasonable attempts to communicate with extremists on either end of the political or moral spectrum will result in turning those who by their very nature tend to be unreasonable into being reasonable. Yet, despite that fact, must we not take the position that if we don’t attempt to identify those who hate and prevent them from being able to act in hateful ways, then we, too, are to be held accountable, responsible, culpable?
So, if we are to have a revolution – and God knows there are too many revolutions being fought on every continent these days – why not attempt, at least, to multiply our acts of kindness, to practice our skill at loving and thereby diminish whatever hateful instincts we may possess? Let us aim, at least, to create a world where hate crimes are not only not tolerated but where the impulse to have hateful feelings is overpowered by the majority of loving men and women who courageously express in words and deeds not merely a respect for themselves but the desire to respect and tolerate the thoughts, needs and differences of others.
If ever there was a time to take a personal inventory of what we are willing to speak up against, to make sacrifices for, and to preserve if we are to live comfortably as moral citizens of the world, I believe the time is now!
Do you agree? Whether you do or you don't, I welcome hearing from you.