Thursday, August 4, 2016
Rooting Out Hate,. Where to Start
We're talking about the kind of hate that leads to violence and can infect large groups of vulnerable people. This is the hate that we are hearing and seeing in our communities and the world today.
In my last post I wrote about this kind of hate and the damage it has and does cause. In that post I ten ways to root it out, as discussed in Why We Hate by Rush W. Dozier Jr. Over the next few weeks I'll be exploring this subject with the goal of helping us create more peace in individuals, in families, communities, and beyond. I'll be exploring each of the ten steps Dozier listed, beginning with the first today, be specific.
What or who do you hate? Be specific. Examine what it is, specifically, about someone or something that distresses you. Is it current or past? For instance, is your reaction a result of something from the past - history- or from today. Do you hate someone's appearance because they remind you of a past experience that still has strong emotions connected to it? Or do you hate something because your parents or teachers taught you it was dangerous, even though you have no personal experience of it?
Or is your hate based on current fears of what might happen or might threaten you, even though there is little basis of fact of that likelihood. You hear about an event on the news and, while there is very little chance it could happen to you, you fear it intensely enough to hate the person, group, or thing involved.
Then explore how someone or something that distresses you is specific to that individual or thing, rather than to lumping them into a category to hate. For instance, the current tendency seems to be to lump all persons of a specific religion or race to hate because a few of those in that category have created the situations that distress you.
Categorizing people dehumanizes them and separates us. When we buy into "us vs. them" thinking, it becmes easy to hate and/or wish them harm. For instance, as GLBT people began to "come out of the closet" and people got to know them as individuals, it became more difficult to demonize them. We knew them as individuals with more in common with "us" than as "others' who were less than human.
Us vs. them thinking is not always bad, of course. WE often need to differentiate between objects or ideas in order to make swift decisions on how to react. The problem is when we tend to see everything as black or white, good or bad, friend or enemy. We must be wary of the lazy habit of this kind of thinking as, in reality, it is quite possible - even probable - that "both-and" is true. Nature AND nurture shape us. There are both safe AND dangerous snakes. There are peaceful AND violent people in every country.
Even with "enemies" it is important that we know more about them than the label we affix to them if we intend to protect ourselves. We need to know the specifics that are real facts and not just stereotypes of a category.
Being specific about that which you hate can moderate your thinking to be more rational and make healthier behavior choices. Hate can be a dangerous thing.