A World Of Hate

There are some things you never expect to see. Yesterday, in between goofing around with friends and a relaxing afternoon spent with my couch and trusty Netflix account, one of those things happened. My CNN app alerted me to breaking news. I assumed that, like the last 50 or so, this would be regarding the fact that the missing Flight 370 had still not been located. It seems that CNN can be quite liberal with the phrase “breaking news.”

Instead, it was something much different. In Overland Park, Kansas, a city adjacent to where I grew up, where I had attended college, where I had met my wife, a man had opened fire outside of a Jewish community center killing a grandfather and his grandson, then killing a woman who was visiting her mother at a nearby assisted-living facility. The suspect was apprehended at a nearby school where, once arrested, the man would sit in the back of the patrol car shouting “Heil Hitler!”

The suspect is known to have founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party. This man was so filled with hate for another group of people that he saw nothing wrong with aiming and firing indiscriminately (the grandfather and grandson were Methodist, only at the Jewish center for a talent show audition). For years, he had devoted time to hating, even being discharged from the army for distributing racist propaganda.

This post is not about gun control or the lack thereof. There is no government regulation that could have prevented this tragedy from happening. This happened because of one terrible human attribute: hate. The end results of this man’s years of hate are shattered families and a devastated community.

It would be nice to think while reading this that this was an ideology that is dying off. My generation, after all, is supposed to be the generation of “post-racial” thought. We should be far removed from this 73-year-old and his unfounded animosity. I would like to think that, but in an imperfect world there will always be hate. And this world is certainly imperfect.

There is a person I have spoken with every day for the past few months. He is very quick to label certain ethnic groups as “trashy” or “not classy.” When I ask him about this, the response is always the same shrug of the shoulders. Not only does he not see this as a negative outlook, he says that these thoughts are not racial but, “just the truth.”

While he is a far cry from the man who headed to a Jewish community center the day before Passover with gun in hand, this is an example of the thoughts that can lead to drastic actions. Thoughts like this may seem harmless to some people, but all it does is continue to foster the hate that has destroyed so many lives in the past.

And it is not just race either. Raised in a post-911 world, there are many who see all Muslims as violent terrorists. There is hate for people with differing opinions, Democrats and Republicans blindly hating the other group, calling them all idiots or, ironically, “hate-mongers.” There is volatility to the internet with cyber-bullying leading to multiple teen suicides. Hate appears to be everywhere we go.

I wish I could say that I was immune from this, but I have felt hatred as well. Growing up in eastern Kansas, I was witness to the group called The Westboro Baptist Church. Led by Fred Phelps, this group of individuals spends every waking hour planning protests against views that they deem sinful. Their website is a monument to groups that they say God hates, from the entire country of Mexico to the Catholic Church. They even wrote a post thanking God for “sending the shooter to the Jews.” Their main target of disdain had been the homosexual community.

For years, this was the living vision of hate for me. They would be seen with their signs declaring God’s hate for various groups. When their leader Fred Phelps died last month, there was a part of me that said “good riddance.” This man had been hate incarnate for years and now he was gone.

Then I thought about it. I was celebrating the death of a human being. I was behaving just as he would have and it made me feel a bit sick. For years, I had railed against this church and, in the end, I was thinking in a very similar way. I had involuntarily begun to hate.

But how could this be stopped? If people were to stop labeling groups, it would help. We could work towards a better understanding of each other and appreciation of the differences that each group brings to the table. Unfortunately, though, I do not think there is a solution. I wish that I could see a time in the future where people’s hate would disappear or at the very least not lead to death. I would love to view the world through rose-colored glasses and think everything is going to be okay, we can all learn to peacefully coexist, and the world will one day be a harmonious place.

The truth is humans are imperfect. Until that stops, hate will continue. There will be more senseless killing and people will be destroyed physically and emotionally. Maybe I am pessimistic, but it seems that this is the sad truth.

The truth can really suck sometimes.

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8 thoughts on “A World Of Hate

  1. No, Nathan, I don’t think it’s pessimism … you do still have hope. I’d call you what I call myself: a realist, basically an optimist who hopes for the best but is prepared for the worst in the event it does happen (which it certainly did in Kansas). I wish every day that I could just wave a magic wand to make all this stuff disappear, but since so many people are completely entrenched in their hate, I know that’s just a pipe dream. I think all we can do, really, is to keep doing what we do; even one mind changed is a change for the better.

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  2. Wow, Nathan. That was a very different post from your usual, but I resonated with it. In Australia, being white and middle class, I have no hate towards anyone except those who are cruel to animals and those who are racist themselves. Sure, maybe I have a few preconcieved opinions lurking but I tend to keep them to myself and treat everyone as equally as I can. I did pick up an Aboriginal man on my bus one day and he was really lovely. As our conversation progressed he did reveal that he was the butt of racism occasionally. He then told me he was gay, and when I asked, he said that he never really got any stick about being gay, but more because of his ethnicity. It makes me so mad that people feel they can just make the rules like that.

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  3. It’s tricky, striking a balance between liking or disliking whole groups of people. What I’d see as soon as anything is a general apathy towards ethnicity and social status, but that doesn’t seem to be in the human condition. Still, I try to take it individual by individual.I find that works best.

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  4. I think boredom leads to hate. When people’s lives are relatively normal, stable, etc. it’s like they have time and the ability to concentrate on what annoys them about the world. Bring something dramatic in (relationships, illness, catastrophe) and suddenly reality comes in to focus, and people realize what is truly important. At least for a moment.

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  5. As a Muslim, I resonate with this. I find a wide acceptance of stigma against Muslims because of the actions of some. But what I have found is this: The people of hatred that attack people like this, like mad men, it is they who have the problem. Such actions can only stem from sick minds that contain a lot of unbridled anger that they refuse to take responsibility of. I find that in this day and age, anyone who still holds onto ignorant prejudices does so out of their own will. The person who really wants to understand the reality of something, would educate themselves with an open mind.
    So yes, it would be good if we could exist harmoniously, agreeing to disagree, but there is a balance in everything, a battle between good and evil. We can’t change what evil people choose to do, but we can do our part by letting go of prejudices and hatred, and stop looking for scapegoats to heap our anger. We can’t stop the evil from occurring, but we can stifle it by firmly voicing our resistance.

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  6. Thanks for posting this. I deal with this problem in my own family. I am an adult with elderly parents who have prejudices against a number of races. They think nothing of spouting off about this. I was abused as a child & have learned better than to disagree with either of my parents, but I always felt disgusted by what they were saying. It makes me realize I have a lot of work to do in my own backyard before I can say I don’t share in the blame.

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