I hope you’ll allow me to begin 2016 out on a serious note.
There are things happening in the world, in this country, which sadden me greatly. This need many have to hate, to view other people by their political views, religious beliefs, culture, or color and to judge them outright without knowing them, to determine they are the “other side” and therefore not worthy. I am of the view that most of the hate stems from people who practice seeing other people as the “other side”, instead of fellow humans. We are faced with this every day in the news through shootings, war, and violence that takes many forms. Just the other day, I saw an example of this in my amazing little town, were someone felt the need to have a huge “Hippie Hater” sticker that covered the whole back window of their truck. I admit my first reaction to that sticker was aversion and dislike, and my second reaction was sadness. The question of “why” just hung in the air.
Why do we feel the need to hate other people?
Why do we automatically fear people that are different from us?
Why can’t all types of people, just be? Is the hippie hurting the cowboy hat wearing rancher – or vice versa? Please note, this is an example taken from that one instance. I know many, many cowboy hat wearing ranchers that are awesome, open minded people.
Instead of being disdainful of someone else’s views, why can’t we find it interesting that the person at the next table thinks a different way and just have a conversation about why they think that way? It wouldn’t mean we had to change our mind, but it would mean that we had some respect for that person’s take on life; some understanding that we are all raised differently and have had different experiences that shape us; some regard for the fact that through our actions, our speech, and our stickers we are passing this hate on to our kids and we are hurting other innocent children. What happens when a child sees that sticker and realizes his parents may be considered hippies, and begins to feel fear, begins to understand that for no specific reason this person could cause him or his family harm? That's the beginning of raising someone that knows fear and then begins to hate...
This morning I was reading a story on Nelson Mandela from Daily Good, and in it they were talking about what made him a lifelong learner and how he learned from others. Dr. Peter Rule researched Mandela and he determined that dialogue with others was crucial for Mandela. He says, “A striking thing about Nelson Mandela’s story is how he refused to dehumanise ‘the other’. Whether the person was an opponent or enemy – even prison wardens or Afrikaner politicians – he insisted on seeing ‘the other’ as a person who he could acknowledge, understand, interact with and learn from.
It is a dangerous path of hate this world is following. We must figure out a way to stop dehumanizing each other. Even if what we learn is that we fundamentally disagree with someone, they are still a person and perhaps by talking to them we’ve clarified why we disagree with their viewpoint, while still understanding why they have that viewpoint.
This week I’ve had another reminder of how life is too short and very precious. A reminder of how important it is to live each moment. It makes me wonder why some think their life is any more important than someone else’s. It makes me wonder why we’d waste our moments on fear, hatred, and dislike.
Each of us has one life. My wish for the world is that in this one life we realize:
- Hate is a wasted sentiment.
- As humans we are more alike than not.
- It doesn’t matter what our views are, we all want to be happy.
- We all want our family and friends to be happy and healthy.
- We all feel pain and fear.
- Causing pain and fear are never the way to happiness.
- But, most of all I hope people start to realize that we create our own fear. The “other” people we are scared of aren’t causing that fear; our view of those people is causing the fear.
If there is to be any hope, we must start to treat every human as an individual, a person to be respected, someone who deserves a smile and a little understanding, someone who has as much right to happiness as we do.