Recently, I’ve had the word “hate” stuck in my head & on my mind for the past little while. This word, this verb, this action, this arrow that cuts straight to the heart, has been tossing on the waves of my mind.
Hate is such a strong word, yet we use it everyday. “I hate peas” “I hate the rain.” “I hate the smell of wet dog.” Yet, when I truly think of hate, I can’t help but think of the atrocities that have been committed throughout history (both past & present). Hate is a force that drives seemingly “small acts” such as gossip, manipulation, exclusion and stereotypes, which in turn drives acts such as bullying, abuse, racism, sexism, classism & other types of discrimination. Hate has even lit the fires of genocide & tragedy felt around the world.
How do you get from gossip to racism, from exclusion to bullying & manipulation to genocide?
While I was siting on the bus today, praying, thinking & wrestling with hate, I realized that hate starts out as just a small seed. Maybe that seed was being bullied as a child & so you bully others as an adult. Maybe that seed was being insulted by someone of a different race & letting that seed fester & rot & turn into bitterness, which turned into racism. Maybe that seed was a misconception, false information or just ignorance that you never checked out & chose to cling to.
But those seeds are dangerous.
For most of us, those seeds turn into attitudes that make us cranky towards certain people or in certain places. For most of us, we won’t end up on the front page of the newspaper because of a little seed planted long ago. For most of us, those seeds will grow silent hate that churns in our hearts & is only seen now & then.
But for some of us, hate can be a powerful force set on destruction.
I was thinking about one very extreme example of hate today: the holocaust. It breaks my heart to think of the atrocities that were committed by the Nazis. There are no words to describe the tragic effects of that hate. But I was wondering today, how did Hitler get to the place where he simply hated the Jews to slaughtering millions of people? How did his followers get to that place?
My best guess it that they had seeds of hate inside of them & all they needed was one man to spark the fire of animosity that was growing inside of their hearts. They needed one match.
This is a sobering thought for me because none of us are immune to the effects of hatred, whether we are victims or victimizers. Hatred is so prevalent in our world & it fills my heart with sorrow. You can call me a hippy or a sap, but I long for the day when humanity turns from our hell-bent ways of destruction & animosity & we learn to love & celebrate each other.
The only force stronger than hate is LOVE. So let us be bent on destroying those seemingly insignificant seeds of hate & loving each other no matter what the cost is.