“Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda
As my husband and I were out cruising on our boat, we passed another boat on the water and he was flying a huge confederate flag. My initial thought was, wow, he has so much hate in him, and then I thought, how sad. Sad because hate is an awful thing, people who hate are not happy. Hate is ugly and makes people feel rage and pain and tarnishes the soul. Some people learn hate from their family, that is how they’re raised and they don’t know any better. Other people feel scared and afraid of what they don’t know, afraid of anyone who is different than they are. Some people are looking for a connection, so they join a group that blames the others for all their problems.
Once you arrive at labeling people the others you get on the slippery slope of dehumanizing a group of people and this often leads to violence.
Learn from history, hate has caused war, destruction, murder, torture, fear, and pain. Hate has never healed, hate has never solved problems and hate has never brought peace and contentment. Every single time we look back in history at examples of hate, we see death and destruction.
Hitler and the Nazi movement, the Spanish Inquisition, the Arab/Israeli battles, the Northern Ireland conflict, the Rwandan Civil War, the Burman Civil War, and it goes on and on. ALL have their roots in hate, and atrocities were committed in all of them. None of them would have happened without the ideology of hate that demonized the other.
We constantly ask ourselves, how could people have behaved so inhumanely? Every single time it’s because people were first dehumanized. From there, people start rationalizing why it’s ok to treat the other as less than human. The others are animals, rapists, criminals, etc, so we need to rid ourselves of such infestation, therefore, you don’t have to treat them humanely.
BEWARE! “It’s an evil trap and will lead you down a road you probably never wanted to go. You probably think of yourself as a good person. One who would never act brutally, and violently towards an innocent person.” – unknown
Heed Yoda’s advice, it bears repeating, “Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.”
Now’s the time to ask yourself are you dehumanizing an entire group of people? I’m guessing many of you reading this said no. How about demonizing Republicans or Democrats? Feeling some outrage, contempt, and hate for all the damn, Republicans/Democrats? So yes, even that is putting us all on the road of dehumanizing a group. Really important, fun fact – most of what we know about the others is wrong.
“The nonprofit organization More in Common recently released a report on the “Perception Gap” — the difference between what we think the “other side” believes and what they actually believe. The study found that average Democrats and Republicans radically overestimate the percentage of the other side that holds “extreme views.”
To be clear what that says: Millions are patently wrong about the views of those who disagree with them politically. Worse, they have hatred and contempt for the other side based on their own ignorance — classic bigotry.” – Arthur C. Brooks.
So, if you are feeling hate and a general sense of anger and unease what should you do?
Ask yourself some questions: Does it make sense to hate an entire group of people without really knowing them? Do you think most Republicans are racists? Do you think most Democrats want an open border? Do you think most Muslims are terrorists? (FYI – Isis is no more representative of the Muslim community than the KKK is representative of the Christian community). What do you really know about these people? Have you shared positive experiences with them? Listened to them?
Do you surround yourself only with people who agree with you? Do you consume news media only from sources that support your existing biases? Is it possible that there may be another way to look at it and would you be willing to listen to other opinions? When you are supporting your beliefs by only getting your information from people and media that think like you, you develop a habit of poor judgment. You get lazy and accept the “facts” without actually looking into it. Ask questions, not with the aim to teach people what you believe but with a goal of understanding. This is too important to get lazy on, do some critical thinking, listen, ask questions, and make informed decisions. Have a conversation, not an argument.
Arguments always begin with an answer in mind.
Conversations begin with a question. – unknown
Stop listening to the most extreme voices who are trying to pit us against them, who use fear and anger to divide us. Be aware that “appealing to emotion can be more powerful than appealing to reason. If a topic makes someone feel emotional, they will rarely be interested in the data. This is why emotions can be such a threat to wise decision making” – Atomic Habits.
The more we understand, the less we fear and the less we hate. Do some critical thinking. Ask questions and listen to learn.
Native American anecdote: A grandfather talking to his grandson tells the boy he has two wolves inside of him, struggling with each other. The first is the wolf of peace, love, and kindness. The other is the wolf of fear, greed, and hatred. The boy asks, “Which wolf will win, grandfather?” And he replies, “Whichever one you feed”.
Which wolf will you feed?
As always, I’d appreciate it if you would help me get the word out about the Matt Kurtz Kindness Award of $250 (nominate someone who inspires you) and the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant of $250 (submit an act of kindness you would do with $250).