Hate is the Constant Enemy. It Gathers in Groups. It Makes Victims of us All.
Hate is real. It doesn't help that we still don't know why.
Attention, friends: We interrupt the light stuff to go heavy today. This is how it has to be sometimes and right now this is how it has to be.
Hate is in the news again. Now it’s Israel being massacred by Hamas, even while Ukraine is still being massacred by the Russians. The list of countries under siege is ever-changing and endless. Murderous factions are killing innocents in ways so cruel we want to shrink from the details. The killings are so common they only make the news when the numbers are large enough. And right now they’re large enough.
In our own country we’re counting gun deaths by the thousands each and every year, the numbers of killings escalated by the use of military-style weapons capable of shredding dozens of bodies within seconds. We’ve joined those countries in an internal battle for our lives, for our souls, for our very democracy.
The world is too often a terrible place and you can thank hate for what’s happening. Racist hate, religious hate, misogynistic hate, bigoted hate—never-ending hatred aimed at certain segments of humanity, with never-ending power struggles between the aggressors and their ultimate victims.
We look on these incidents as power plays, wringing our hands over cause and effect, over actions and inaction, and there is that—all of that—but we can’t get past the fact that every hate-filled power struggle is human-induced. Human beings joining together to inflict harm on other human beings who simply want to live their lives in peace.
Peace is an ugly word to haters.
I take any form of hate personally, maybe because I’m a human being who simply wants to live my life in peace. This is normal. Hate is not. Aggression is not. We couldn’t have survived for millions of years if hate and aggression had won out and had become the norm. Yet we’ve never been able to get a handle on it. Hate settles in our homes, in our schools, in our neighborhoods, in our towns, in our country, and across the world. Is it inbred? With us forever? It appears that way. Must we learn to live with it? Only if we want hate to win.
Every day some form of hate takes center stage, and every day we gather our greatest minds and call for an end to it, as if being reasonable will make those haters come to their senses and find a better way.
We march, we make banners and slogans and peace signs, we declare solidarity and support. And we mean it.
And hate laughs at us.
I’m heartsick over the horrific Hamas attacks in Israel. It comes while we’re still trying to deal with the lunacy behind the ongoing attacks in the Ukraine and the lesser attacks on our own democracy here in the country I’ve lived in and loved all of my long, long life. Every bit of it is fueled by hate, and each and every time we’re baffled and we’re stunned.
How can so much hate exist? Why does it exist?
Nobody knows. Nobody can explain it. Which is why so many choose not to deal with it at all. Trying to cope with hate is tough. Good people everywhere are avoiding any news of war or politics until this is all over. They can’t handle the carnage, the horror stories, the pictures of bombed buildings and dead bodies. They’re tired of politics, of trying to sort through lies, of worrying about a world full of crazed barbarians attempting to take over.
Blood still flows and families still weep, and if we pretend we don’t see it, how is that not the worst kind of privilege? How precious that our grief and rage can be turned on and off depending on what we think we can endure as we try to have a nice day.
Yet am I doing anything better? I’m sitting here in my safe office writing this with no earthly idea about how to fix any of it. I’m writing this because it hurts too much to ignore. I can’t get past it. If you’re reading this thinking these same thoughts, I’m glad you’re here. We’ll worry and fume together.
Will it help? There are only so many words and none of them come with a guarantee of magical healing. So why am I doing this again? Why do any of us do it? We do it out of despair, out of fear, out of grief, out of hope. Because we don’t know what else to do.
If I say ‘This has to stop"‘, as I have, literally hundreds of times before, with varying degrees of indignation, I can’t make it stop. I can only hope.
If I beg the powers-that-be to do something, it won’t be the first time or the last time. It’ll just be one more time. No matter which words I choose, no matter how heartfelt they are, they’re meaningless unless they achieve something.
I’ll keep on because I want peace, lasting peace. If it feels as if what I’m doing is just short of nothing, well, okay. I can’t just do nothing.
I want the warring to end. I want to wake up one day without having to grieve over another victim dead by another human’s hand. I want never to have to multiply those victims by tens or hundreds or thousands.
I want the victims of haters everywhere to know there are people who care and we’re doing what we can to help. We’re the witnesses. The chroniclers. We won’t turn away. We won’t stop pressuring. We won’t hide from the truth.
I want the haters to know it, too. I want them to be shunned from civilized societies. I want them never to be allowed to forget the harm they’ve done to other human beings. I want their actions to come back and haunt them. I want them to pay the price.
With anything less, hate will always win.
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