Monday, January 16, 2017

Affraid to Give Up Hate



Hate has become our most prized social asset. It is, perhaps too often, our go-to response when we are offended, angry, challenged, threatened or rebuked. We use it as a weapon and as a defense. Conflict is resolved through dialogue, discourse and promotion of understanding. Unfortunately hate only generates fear, mistrust and misinformation.

We prize and protect our hate, even while we bemoan our inability to create civility.

We love to hate because we have lost the art of debate. Not arguing, simply debate. There was a time in the Western world when debate was a sport. It was taught in schools, there were competitions, it was entertainment that helped us exchange information. It was part of our oral tradition. We learned that disagreeing was not always a personal issue. But something happened. Groups with extreme social and religious views decided their beliefs alone were proof of their positions and  no debate, discussion or rational was needed, ever. Belief was truth and not subject to examination on any level. To question this position was a display of intolerance of their belief system.

So debate and discourse became a meddling in beliefs and, as such, intolerance.  Debate withered. Hate became our lingua franca.

Obviously, this can stop. It is simple, but far from easy. We have to stop using hate as a response to fear. Suppressing our hate reflex, especially in the age of the internet, is unnatural for most people.

The hate habit has been developing a long time. It has always been a response to extreme frustration. However there have always been members of society who have shown us that by giving up hate, they can change things. When we give up hate we start thinking, talking and learning. But history has taught us that when you give up hate, you change the rules and people don't like it when the rules change.   When you give up hate, it will be scary, you will be hated, but you have to start someplace.