Stop the Hate

Stop the Hate

Oct 04
Stop the Hate

On October 1st, we saw the worst mass shooting in United States history.  At this writing, over 58 people are dead with hundreds wounded by a lone gunman.  He opened fire on a group of people enjoying an outdoor concert in Las Vegas.  No motive is currently known.

Appropriately, people have been posting and commenting on social media using the hashtag #StoptheHate.  This shooting was an abominable, evil act.  I cannot claim to know this man’s motives, but hate seems to be a reasonable conclusion.

I’d say that, overall, the things I’ve read have been appropriate.  No agenda.  No political commentary.  Merely an expression of grief and horror at what has happened.

However, as I browsed through what people have been writing, a pattern of irony began to emerge.  I found these posts among the comments tagged with #StoptheHate:

  • “We must #stopthehate, eliminate propaganda from right wing & White House and focus on facts.”
  • “Nice to see the Far-Right scum are being rounded up at last. Terrorism isn’t just confined to Islam nutters.  #stopthehate”
  • “Trump is winning!  Get down or Lay Down!  #stopthehate”
  • “As always the political gun grabbing fat hag will never let a good crisis go to waste. #stopthehate”

While these next two aren’t necessarily ironic, they imply that we can #StoptheHate via legislation:

  • “How many more parents need to bury their children before Congress acknowledges the need to take action to reduce gun violence? #stopthehate”
  • “Common-sense gun safety protections are vital to ensure people’s safety. We must #stopthehate.”

I understand the desire for additional legislation, a desire to do something to try to stop this from ever happening again.  But we must acknowledge that it is impossible for any law to stop people from hating.  The best we can hope to achieve is to make it difficult for anyone to be able to act upon their hate.

Legislation and #StoptheHate do not belong together.  You cannot make it illegal to hate.

Even more importantly, #StoptheHate shouldn’t be tied to anything even remotely hateful.  It’s like saying, “I hate people who hate people.”  Such comments encourage the very thing that they claim to want to eliminate.

Here’s a quote from an op-ed piece I read recently on CNN:

“The President is a crude narcissist whose antics provoke division, hatred and violence, and our society is in the grips of an epidemic of gun violence.”

On one hand, the writer correctly notes that hatred and violence are a problem.  Then he points a finger at the President and calls him a “crude narcissist whose antics provoke division, hatred, and violence.”  Apparently, the writer doesn’t consider such a comment to be at all hateful or provoking.

As Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the world blind.”  You cannot stop hate by “hating the hater” – there’s still hate.  Being intolerant of intolerant people is itself intolerance.  Just because you can justify it in your mind, that you only do it to people who do it first or who are “worse” than you, it doesn’t make you any more right.  If anything, it makes you just as guilty.

If you hate the hateful people, then you admit that you hate.  If you are intolerant of those who are intolerant, then you admit that you are intolerant.  At best, these are equivocations – lame attempts to justify bad behavior.  Almost like a form of nonviolent vigilantism.  We cannot allow ourselves to be mean to mean people, to hate hateful people, to be violent with violent people – this vigilantism, the retaliation, just perpetuates the very thing we claim we’re trying to “solve.”

The truth is that people aren’t the problem.  Hatred is the problem.  Self-centeredness and fear are the problem.  Pride and greed are the problem.  These are not people – they are diseases, cancers, of the soul.

You don’t hear someone say, “I hate that guy – he has cancer.”  No, we hate the disease not the person afflicted by it.  Hatred is a disease.  While it might not have infected everyone on the planet, it has infected millions, maybe even billions.  This is true of greed, pride, self-centeredness, fear, and a host of other soul diseases.  Everybody is infected by one or more.  Everybody carries one of the diseases.

Does it make sense to give yourself cancer in order to heal someone with cancer?  What about making yourself an addict in order to cure someone else’s addiction?  So it is with hate, intolerance, violence, and everything else wrong in the world.  You have to combat the disease, not contract it yourself.

There will be another mass murder.  If you don’t believe me, just read the responses and the accusations that are flying around in the wake of Las Vegas.  Look at the finger-pointing, blaming, and shaming.  Somebody is being hated on, somebody is being subjected to intolerance and ridicule, somebody is being bullied – all justified because we are trying to “Stop the Hate.”

In other words, we’re teaching everyone that it’s okay to hate – as long as you can justify it.  While I don’t understand them and I fundamentally disagree with them, I’m certain that every one of these terrible killings in recent years were “justified” in the mind of the killer.

Where do you think they got the idea to justify their hatred and their actions based on it?

You can only #StoptheHate by not hating anyone.  No exceptions.

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