There are many places in the world where hate is thriving. In such milieus, people hate others who are different from themselves. They view these “others” as substandard or wicked. Hence, they want them uprooted, removed, even expunged from this earth.
When such a mind-set exists, hate-provoking propaganda is welcome. As the propaganda spreads, a “group think” takes hold that knows no bounds, for everyone you associate with thinks the way you do.
To intensify the problem, when leaders promote hate, hate becomes virtuous. When differences are demeaned, demeaning becomes honorable. When anger is stoked, stoking up violence becomes rewarded. Like an unchecked cancer, hate eats away at all that is good.
- Hate feeds on fear
- Hate breeds mistrust
- Hate nurtures contempt
- Hate destroys objectivity
- Hate celebrates revenge
- Hate wipes out reason
The language people use can make hate acceptable, even respectable. Then, it’s an easy jump to justifying hate-based actions as “unavoidable”, “necessary” and “justified.” People believe that they must fight fire with fire. They must get rid of them. They must take their country back.
People begin to bond together based upon their mutual hatred of the “other.” Then scapegoating begins.
Demeaning the “other” becomes acceptable. Debasing the “other” becomes respectable. Degrading the “other” becomes honorable. Hatred becomes a unifying force, serving to unite “us,” elevate “our” way of living; “our” way of believing, “our” way of worshiping.
We all need to be on guard against the growth of hate in our society — and even in ourselves. For hatred is not necessarily experienced as hatred. It may be experienced as self- righteous indignation, justified anger or appropriate retaliation.
So, if hatred beckons, we must not let it highjack our hearts, even when we are grieving for the victims of violence. If hatred beckons, we must not let it cloud our minds, especially when we are searching for viable solutions to somber problems.
Political leaders often hype up their audiences with simple solutions and snappy slogans. But leaders must monitor what they say. For, when their followers are revved up, they become passionate. And that passion may create a call for violent action. It’s so easy for a lone-wolf or an angry psyche to take hyped-up rhetoric as permission to go on a rampage. And who then will we view as responsible for the tragedy?
Let us contrast today’s political messages with Martin Luther King’s message of non-violence. King had plenty of reason to hate, to promote revenge, to hype violence. But he didn’t. Instead, he taught concepts consistent with most religious teachings of a universal humanity. Notice that as he searched for solutions to complex problems, he chose metaphors of light and love:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction….The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”