What happens when we hate?
I’ve seen a lot of talk of hate. Hate is Trump, Trump is hate. Everyone who supports Trump is hateful. If you’re not with us (love) you’re with them (hate).
Hate is not only synonymous with Trump and Trump supporters.The most terrifying statement I’ve ever heard is that “I’m only open minded to open minded people because I have no time for close minded hate.” Admittedly, I agreed at the time to save face, because the person who said it was a close friend, but something didn’t sit right. The irony in only being open-minded to open-minded people is that you are — in fact — close minded. *Cue dramatic turning tables music*
When Trump won the 2016 election, I was devastated. I was working for a Democratic Senator, I was studying political science in college, I was IN IT to WIN IT. I remember telling a colleague at the time that his win would motivate me to be further involved in politics. But quite frankly, it has done the opposite; and not because of Trump, but because of hate within all communities that continues to create an environment of accepted hate and anger. In turn this creates more polarity between the parties. But I’m not here to talk politics. I’m here to talk about the problem of accepted hate in our country.
Let me ask you something: before putting something out into the stratosphere of the internet universe (or frankly anywhere in the universe), do you ask yourself where your commentary is coming from? Are you sharing something from a place of understanding and love? Or are you desperately trying to be heard by putting others down? Are you blinded by hate because you’re devastated and can’t comprehend why our country and world look the way they do? Are you triggered? I understand, I have been, and still experience it when I feel attacked. However, I also don’t think that my own issues should affect how I interact with others. For example, if you just got fired from your job and go home and are an asshole to the people that you love: you’re still an asshole. Sure, you have an excuse, but does that really excuse your actions? Not really.
I’ve been exhausted, and when I say exhausted, I mean EXHAUSTED from the amount of times I read hate comments on social media, misinformation spreading like wildfire, and confirmation bias. I feel like everywhere I look, someone’s either telling me I’m right for my current opinion or that I’m the problem. Maybe both are true, or very wrong. Here’s a crazy idea: hate is the problem.
When’s the last time you approached a topic of difference with a sense of openness to understand? I mean this very genuinely — it’s easy to say you’re open-minded, but are you really doing the work? I’m currently in a loving relationship with someone who chose not to vote for the President in 2016, but who also plans to vote for Trump in the upcoming election (a definite ouch for me). Sometimes we get into heated discussions about politics, but we also very much respect each other and our differences. The scary thing about our relationship, is that it has opened me up to understanding why Trump is in office, in a way that I wasn’t sure I was ready for, and am still not sure I’m ready to accept. My anger and initial triggers of when Trump was elected left me completely closed off to being open in understanding why anyone would vote for him. It’s scary to think — maybe there’s something going on here other than just blatant stupidity and hate? I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that maybe I don’t know everything there is to know about politics, the differences in views in our country, and the future of our country.
Here’s another crazy idea: fear is the problem.
Back when I was a student in the traditional sense, I prided myself on being an A+ student who like to be right, all the time. I hated being wrong; I only listened to people who thought like me; and mostly, I was afraid of everything that challenged how I defined myself. I studied political science, because I thought it would take me on the path of changing the world for the better. A bright young woman, a Leslie Knope, full of hope: I defined myself as a strong progressive, democrat, feminist, social justice warrior, rape survivor, a rule follower, and a perfectionist. Everything was my-way or the highway. I was always right, and whoever you were, you were always wrong (unless, of course, you agreed with me). I would manipulate people who would challenge me, put words in their mouth, and build them up to be the racists, sexists, xenophobes, that I was taught they were. The problem was I hated them. I hated their differences. I feared their differences because it made me wonder, who am I really? When I strip away all the labels I’ve created for myself, who am I really? Politics isn’t personal, but we make it personal. Democrat is label I placed in myself. You’re either with me or against me. But is that really the way the world works?
I have a strong sense of connectedness: I believe we are all connected in some way. I don’t know if it’s God, light, the Milky-Way, or yoga, but it’s something. This means when I spread hate and an unwillingness to understand onto someone else, I’m really doing it to someone else. When I choose not to understand someone else’s differences, I’m choosing not to understand myself. When I choose to hate, I hate myself. When I choose hate, I let fear win. When fear wins, I lose.
So say it with me now, who am I really?