For the past month, I’ve been unable to get out of my mind a column I recently read in World magazine by Andrée Seu Peterson called Being in Hate. She contrasts our well-known emotional state of “being in love” with “being in hate.” In particular, she said this:
“People who are in hate don’t know what they have lost. What they have lost is their very humanity.”
Her final paragraph references America’s current political state as hate-driven. I’ve thought about this quite a bit and realized it’s not just our political state, but our culture. We think of the KKK and other white supremacists as the worst of the worst, as they proved in Charlottesville a few weeks ago. However, whether it’s President Trump, the LGBT community, Evangelicals, Black Lives Matter, the NRA, college students, or the ACLU (to name just a few), most rhetoric pours out as hate speech. Usually, those speaking (and their supporters) don’t hear the hate, and sometimes even claim their words are meant in love.
Our president, with his unfiltered tweets, is possibly the worst individual offender outside of true hate groups (such as the KKK) I’ve ever seen. The snobbish attitude among our leaders in the Democrat Party towards voters who supported Trump, however, is just as wicked. Those who compare Trump to Hitler and Evangelicals to the KKK are more hate-filled than Trump himself. The same goes for those who claimed President Obama was the Antichrist and LGBT supporters are equivalent to Nazis. (For the record, I find all of these comparisons to be deplorable.)
Our reaction to the Colin Kaepernick saga is a perfect example. The venomous hatred spewed against him (and other athletes who have followed suit) is horrific. When I mention Colin’s name to those who are perfectly rational in most circumstances, spit flies and hate creases their face. On the other side, however, are his supporters who grow just as livid and irrational about his supposed blacklisting by the NFL. There’s no possible middle ground, no chance that his monetary demands are too great for his skill level. No, they demand it’s a conspiracy.
I understand both sides, because both sides have valid points. What I see, however, is a microcosm of America’s current culture of “being in hate.” There’s no rational dialogue, no allowance for the other side, no willingness to listen. It’s no longer just “my way or the highway.” It’s become “If you disagree with my viewpoint, you’re a racist bigot who hates (fill in the blank–it’s your worldview).”
Today, every side name calls. Read editorials on MSNBC or Fox News. Sure, they can make a few rational points, but most of those points–if not all–are nothing more than carefully couched insults that barely hide the disgust the writer holds for those of an opposing viewpoint. Follow that up by reading the comments to articles. Talk about hate! It doesn’t matter if the poster is right- or left-wing. If those are too vicious for your stomach to handle, go to ESPN and read the nasty comments between fans. It doesn’t get any better.
I’m not claiming to be above this. I’ve been just as guilty in the past and I continue to fall into that trap today (especially when confronted with idiot drivers! LOL!) and probably will do so until I die. What I am trying to change is my heart. I am trying to love Republicans and Democrats (I am neither), evangelicals and atheists, the NRA and the ACLU. I’ve found that when I know someone personally from a particular group, I can no longer make the blanket claim that everyone from that crowd is wicked and heartless. If I do, I am in a state of hate. To be in a state of love–that is, love for my fellow person–I cannot succumb to the temptation to lash out at those with different worldviews. I need to listen and care.