It is a practical question, that one up there in the headline for this column.
I think a lot of us would agree that there is enough hate already, so let’s give it a rest.
But that is not happening across the nation as people continue to protest, even riot, against The Donald being the 45th president of the United States of America.
United we are not.
I think we’ve all known there is division in this country, and what can be regarded as normal division has grown to what seems to be uncrossable chasms with no bridges spanning them, only the smoldering embers of what once connected sides.
There was enough ugliness to go around during the long (oh, so terribly long) campaign months. Let it go. I didn’t vote for Trump either (or Hillary, for that matter), and I sleep just fine at night – except when my 4-month-old wakes me.
I don’t know what kind of president Donald Trump will make. I can only hope that his words in his acceptance speech claiming that he will be a president for all Americans are true. And I can only hope that he will leave my America better than what was handed off to him.
There are far better things, more productive things in which to put your energy, than protesting against not getting your way (even if that protest is a fine exercise of the First Amendment).
Like what? Feeding and clothing the poor, organizing fundraisers to fund the feeding and clothing of the poor, going to church, baking, reading, cleaning, taking a walk, praying, binge watching “Arrested Development” on Netflix, talking with your children, looking into a star-studded night sky – the list is endless.
History has been a wonderful teacher in showing us that hate does not beget good things.
For instance, the KKK and the actions of members who believe their violence is justified because of the less-than-humanness of a black person. I cannot fathom the Nazi regime’s all-encompassing loathing of the Jewish people (and others it viewed as undesirable). How the people belonging to this party were able to gather up, separate like cattle, and kill at least 6 million Jewish men, women and children is far beyond my ability to understand.
And that is just two examples. What about the Native Americans, Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915, the Tutsi in 1990s Rwanda, 9/11, Bosnia, Darfur, Paris …
And there’s more. All throughout history there is story after story after story of man’s blind hatred leading him to act against another, and others, in violence.
I just don’t get it. Is it a mob mentality thing? I mean, that at least offers some explanation. Typically, it is not a person to fear so much, but people on the other hand, especially people that are feeding off each other’s fallacious motives – now there is something to fear.
Maybe humans, locked in their infinite human nature, need things like this, a clear bad guy to fight, a clearly-perceived bad guy to hate. I don’t know.
Nineteenth century French novelist and playwright Honore de Balzac said this: “Hatred is the vice of narrow souls; they feed it with all their littleness, and make it the pretext of base tyrannies.”
Hatred is little and narrow, it is sharp and pitiless and provides its harborer a jagged, deadly object in the hand. Hatred is small and it burns and devours and does not allow for anything else but itself.
Sure, I certainly hate, loathe and despise my fair share of things: my waistline, bad grammar, litter, that chocolate is not considered its own necessary food group … I could go on. But my hatred does not extend to people.
There is plenty out there to loathe, certainly, but that incendiary emotion is much better burned on things that don’t hurt other people.
I don’t know how the seed first gets planted or how those that nurture that hate-filled little nugget justify its careful tending. Hating blindly, devouring our brother – I don’t believe these are natural things.
So what do we do? How do we make it different?
I don’t have answers, only a suggestion – love each other. People do what they will do and are spurred on by motives we can’t possibly know or understand unless we have walked a mile or two in that person’s shoes, right? Don’t judge, don’t persecute, don’t belittle or begrudge, don’t presume to know better — just love. It is easier to do than hate. And hate cannot stand against love, it is just not strong enough.
French writer Victor Hugo said, “Love each other dearly always. There is scarcely anything else in the world but that: to love one another.”
So, give it a go. After all, we are all of us but here for a short time, and we are in this together.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.