Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tis the Season ... of Hate?!

If there is one word in the English language that is being way over utilized, and often without an understanding of how and when it should be used, it's the word hate.  It's all over the news, social media, and even in our daily lives.

Christmas is supposed to be a time for peace on earth, good will toward men. And even if you don't celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, there is no denying that this is the time of year when most people celebrate family, friends and doing good. It's the time of year when people for the most part are filled with good cheer.

So why all the hate speech? Especially politically based hate speech.

Do you wish your mother Happy Holidays with that mouth?

Several years ago I said to a very wise friend that I hated a certain individual. My sage friend said to me, "Hate is a very strong word. Are you sure the sentence fits the crime?"

Hmmm ... that definitely got me thinking and and I downgraded my passionate outburst from hating the individual to disliking what she had done. See what happened there? I not only put a lower octane emotion on the moment, but steered it away from the individual herself. After all, it was her actions I didn't like.

Very recently a friend started spouting to me about how much he hated President Obama. It didn't matter that he knew I generally supported the President, and even if I didn't I would at least respect the office, something a lot of people are forgetting to do these days. I didn't care for George W one bit, but I would never have disrespected him the ugly way Obama is dissed.

Anyway, when my friend continued to underline how much he hated Obama, I stopped him with this:

Me: "Have you actually met the man?"
Him: "Um, no, of course not."
Me: "Then how do you know you hate him?"
Here I received a grocery list of his perceived Obama failings.
Me: "So it's not Obama the man that you hate, but his position on health care and foreign policy? Those are things, not a human being. You actually hate that so why not say that? And while you're at it, tone it down to dislike or disagree with."
Here I was met with a stony silence, then he moved on to another topic.

I am definitely NOT a Donald Trump fan, but do I hate Donald Trump? No. I've never met him so I can't give an honest opinion on him as a person.  I do intensely dislike and disagree with his inflammatory rhetoric, policy stands, and self-important posturing, but the man himself - meh.

Many years ago I had the honor of meeting John McCain a few times. He always seemed to me to be a lovely man and I still feel that way about him. I do, however, strongly disagree with his stand on most issues. See the difference? When you move away from the person and address the issues, hate seems to take a back seat or disappear.

The same goes for groups of people. To say you hate Muslims, African-Americans, Latinos, Christians, Jews, fat people, gays, or any other group of human beings, remember, you don't know them all, and I'll bet the few you do know personally on your particular hate group hit list, you probably like or would like if you got to know them.

Put down the broad brush of hate and pick up 
the finer more useful brush of peace and understanding.

I really dislike the phrase haters gonna hate. It shrugs hate off like it's nothing, like it's impotent and doesn't matter. But it does matter. It matters a lot. We can choose to turn away from people who hate and let them continue spewing their bile and covering us all with their acidic slime, or we can choose to look haters in the face and say STOP IT! To be silent is a form of agreement.

Today is December 16th. We have two weeks until the end of the year. I strongly suggest we all, as individuals, put a moratorium on the word hate and actions of hate from today on.  Who knows, we might even be able to start looking at our emotions rationally and realistically for the New Year, which can only bring about positive feelings and better mental health, and maybe even better physical health.

So before you say I hate [fill in the blank], remember it really just highlights your own ignorance, not the person or group at whom you're aiming your venom.

Change can start with one person. One person leads to another, then another, then another. We can bring about change one loving, rational, and understanding person at a time.

1 comment:

Mark Baker said...

Very wise words.