Hate. Ah yes, the darkest of all words, the wrench, if you will, thrown into the machine that could have been a more perfect world. It is the product of fear and propelled mostly by, well, convenience.
To hate is much more convenient than to love. That is not to say that those who hate are aware of that notion, but it is profoundly true. Loving is hard, even in small ways, or in interactions with those beyond our own predetermined “loved ones.” Well, and sometimes even within that circle.
Anyway, the convenience of hate is, I believe, at the heart of all things unjust.
For example, it is what causes us to shrug our shoulders when unarmed individuals, children included, are shot and killed by police officers. It is what allows us to hate all police officers because of those cases. It’s what makes it easier to shoot first and ask questions later. Or to hate an entire professional community without considering those who honor the badge with public service.
Convenience is what inspires columnists from prominent papers to refer to migrant human beings as “cockroaches” simply because they search for a safer piece of land to call home. It’s easier to isolate ourselves in fabricated worlds of our own making instead of challenging ourselves to accept that there is one world with global citizens.
And, it is that convenience that rears its ugly head when people post “Celebrate White History Month” signs in deli windows in the presence of black customers. Convenience is what makes us feel OK to say that the deli owner got what he deserved when his company went bankrupt. In reality, it was simply easier for the store owner to be insensitive, because empathy isn’t a task for the weary. It’s also easier to go “haha-ing” because this man somehow got what karma had in store; because seeing him as a desperate and suffering man would require us to look past his hateful mistake. It would also tempt us to accept that we too have made those same errors, and that we are all more alike than we let on.
As political as my own voice can be, it would ultimately be a voice of naiveté if I failed to recognize that we cannot govern ourselves out of the hells of injustices. It does, after all, take a conversion of hearts. And down the line, our action as a society and the policy we create will reflect that. The world will reflect that.
My friend and adviser Stacia McDermott likes to say that “we have to believe that people are doing the best that they can, that everyone is.”
She’s a better person than I am for believing that. But, even if it isn’t true, shouldn’t we love people anyway? It’s not the easy thing to do, but humanity has managed to run a mile in under 3:45. If you caught me running that fast, science would have either significantly advanced, or something really bad is coming right behind me.
The point is, it can be done, and it must be. Otherwise we really should ask ourselves if we have come any farther from the tribal ways of a delusional, separate existence — if we really have made any progress. Have we modernized, or are we only finding more efficient ways to hate?
There is a lot at stake when hate is the way of the world, and hate only produces more of itself. Its only benefit is convenience, and not even that is guaranteed in the long run. Choose the more loving option. We’ve got nothing more to be afraid of.