Hate is a 4 letter word
Okay so I am in the middle of writing a long and personal post about Kurt Vonnegut, but my uncanny ability to procrastinate plus my limited time to write, means that it is still under construction (much like any sort of government funded project, amirite?!).
I just wanted to write about something that has unfortunately been making it’s rounds in the world, and more personally, my country.
I’m talking about hate. We’ve seen terroristic behavior from people from half way across the world, and as close as right next door. It seems that hate is becoming more acceptable. Turn on any news station and watch the vile and putrid words flash across the screen: TERROR! HATE CRIME! DEATH! Like whoa, let’s all chill out for just a minute. How is it that these people who willingly inflict their hatred onto others have not learned from the mistakes made in history? I mean, I had history classes in high school and college…I imagine they did as well, or at the very least were not living under a rock until 2 weeks ago.
What good has hate ever accomplished? If you get joy out of inflicting fear, pain, and suffering onto others, then that tells me more about you as a person than anything else. If I was a psychologist this is the part where I would say something like, “your actions are a reflection of your own feelings about yourself”, and there is probably a lot of truth in that. I know from personal experience that people who have been cruel, malicious, or generally shitty to me have had a host of other issues going on in their own lives and they happen to suck at dealing with them. That isn’t unusual.
My experience with angry children…not my own
My junior and senior years of high school I was in a super terrific program called P.A.L., Peer Assistance & Leadership. It isn’t easy to be accepted into this program. You had to meet certain qualifications and you had to write a very in depth paper on why they should choose you and what differences you intend to make. P.A.L., amongst many other things, is essentially a club for older high school kids to mentor younger Elementary and Middle school kids who are considered “at risk”. Who would be considered at risk? Children who come from low income households, have suffered physical or emotional trauma at home, have difficulty concentrating in school, are new to the country and having a hard time adapting, and kids who have a tendency to bully.
You might be wondering about that last one and asking yourself “why he’ll out kids who are assholes to other kids?”, but here’s the thing: when children bully, it is usually because of a much deeper seeded issue. Humans are not born hating other humans. Kids are in a constant process of physiological and psychological growth and development. They haven’t established the skills to deal with adult issues and react to those issues with reason and responsibility. So they close themselves off, run away, self-harm, or take their aggression out on other kids. Sometimes as adults it’s hard to take a step back and try to give the benefit of the doubt to a bully who is hurting your child. Your instincts tell you to protect and defend your spawn at all costs, like nature intends for all animals across all species. But humans have something no other creature does: the ability to empathize, rationalize, and forgive.
Here’s a secret:
I was also in P.A.L. in the 5th grade…but I was on the other side. I dealt with a laundry list of family issues that left me feeling isolated, scared, and depressed at just ten years old. I count my blessings because others have had it much worse, but at that age I couldn’t be expected to understand the struggle of anyone other than myself. I thought things couldn’t get worse, or maybe I just tried hard to imagine that they couldn’t, and so I was placed in the “at risk” bucket. I wasn’t a bully. I wasn’t really anything. I kept to myself and rarely talked to anyone, including my school counselor. In fact, I often found myself on the other end of the bullying stick. I was small for my age and it took many years for me to grow into my large eyes. I was passive on the outside but angry on the inside, like in those zombie movies where a character gets infected but tries to play it cool around his buddies like, “nah bro I always sweat like this in the dead of winter.”
So back to my original point…
Why do we still have adults who have never grown out of the bullying phase, but instead honed it into this vitriolic and ignorant hate machine? How are there grown, able bodied men and women who actually believe that they are superior because they have less pigmentation in their skin, or because they have a penis, or because they worship a Christian God? And with all of these assholes out there in the streets chanting anti-semitic bullshit and carrying their tiki torches of terror, there are other adults who are finding arbitrary, minute ‘problems’ to be angry over. How, with all of this going on, can you decide to channel your energy into hating your co-worker who got the promotion over you, or a former friend or partner who broke your heart, or god forbid an innocent mother in a Facebook article who made an trivial mistake? Sanctimommies are some of the most hateful people you will ever come across. Luckily, most of them spew their shitty attitude behind a keyboard where they feel “safe”.
Why can’t you choose to be happy for your co-worker, or wish the best for your former friend or partner, or maybe keep your un-asked-for opinion about the mom who doesn’t feed her baby organic food to yourself? What harm would it do to turn your attention away from hatred, anger, and jealousy and steer it towards love, happiness, and acceptance? I’ll tell you: it will do zero harm because doing nice things and not being human garbage is never a bad thing. Ever. Being an anger-fueled asshole, however, does a lot of harm. To your community, to your relationships, and ultimately to yourself. You want to talk about turning into the ugliest version of yourself, well look no further than hate.
Hate is a 4 letter word..but so is love.
Choose your word wisely. It makes all the difference in the world.