In light of the recent events in Connecticut, which frankly hit close to home, especially in being a parent, I felt compelled to write about hate. The inspiration behind this entry stems from the homily given by our pastor at our Sunday service. What does hate produce? How do we combat hate? Can we combat hate? These are all questions I have been contemplating for the last few months, even before this tragedy. Therefore, to open this blog entry, I’d like to begin with a quote in addition to ending with one.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary hate is defined as an “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury. It is an extreme dislike or antipathy (and in most cases, there is an object of hatred).”
Our pastor opened his homily with a question, in light of the horrific tragedy in Connecticut, we ask ourselves, “What can I do?” Well, really, what can I do? I am 1,000 miles away, what kind of impact can I possibly have to assist strangers in the grieving process? To answer that self-doubt in the ability to do something, he stated that there are three things we can do to help, which may not directly assist those suffering in Connecticut, but can certainly contribute to helping our world combat hate.
The first is obvious, he said to pray. Pray for those left behind, pray for those that are forced to bury loved ones, their own children, pray for the community that needs to move forward and become whole again, pray for our communities at home for their safety and well being Simply stated, pray.
The second may be more difficult to accomplish, that is be authentic, know yourself and take care of yourself. We may think this to be a bit selfish; as parents we tend to be self-sacrificing, setting our needs aside for our children. However, what good are we to them, to anyone or quite frankly to ourselves if we are not whole?
The third, which also may be a difficult feat, know your fellow man and be caring towards them. I suppose this goes towards the “do unto others” that we were taught ages ago. Know your fellow man? In the age of technology where we are constantly plugged in, how well do we know each other? Are we isolating ourselves although we have hundreds of friends on our social media pages? How well do we know others in our communities, in our lives for that matter whereby we can recognize that they help? In an effort to achieve this, we need to be open towards one another with our hearts and minds, with the willingness to communicate without an electronic device.
Lastly, he spoke of violence. As of yet we do not know the root of the violence that led to the tragedy in Connecticut. What we can learn in the moment is that violence is not just the physical harm, within the homily he discussed that violence comes in different forms such as bullying, hatred and even through words. Words derived from hatred can be one of the deepest forms of violence against another human being.
I read an article entitled “The Effect of Hate on Children,” by Dr. Asa Don Brown of the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association. According to Dr. Brown, “Hate is rarely founded and always based on an indifference between peoples. Hate knows no friend; it breaches the well being of both the hated and the hater,” (Brown, 2012, para. 4).
This then begs the question, how do we overcome hate, especially hate that has specifically targeted another human being? According to the article, “Hate is the ultimate virus, infecting the very essence of the person. However, hate is not a totalitarian regime, and fortunately because of human resiliency, hate can be overcome. Overcoming hate starts with the individual. Through a deliberate and conscious effort on the part of the individual, hate can be eliminated from the mind and very conscious of that individual,” (Brown, 2012, para. 8).
What can we do to educate our children about hate as well as protect them from hate? “Helping your children to recognize the verbal and nonverbal messages is critical for combating the hate. Be certain to teach your children to recognize the key features of hateful and violent messages; whether they are communicated verbally or nonverbally; casted disparagingly through stereotypes, stigmas, guilt, or shame; it is essential to know and recognize when other’s are offering us platters of hate,” (Brown, 2012, para. 11). These are vital lessons for adults to also learn in an effort to overcome, deter and hopefully prevent hate. What may not be fully comprehended by those that carry hate in their hearts, hateful words, the spreading of hate, can negatively affect not just the targeted individual, but others closely associated with the target. As our pastor stated in his homily, words can carry just as violent an impact upon the human spirit as a weapon, with multiple casualties.
Lastly, our pastor also advised us to hug our children a little tighter, no matter what their age, toddler to teen to college student. This can be the stepping stone to taking care of ourselves and embracing others both literally and figuratively.
As we reflect on recent events as well as the events within our own lives, unfortunately, hate can and does play a role. I ended a recent blog entry with a quote stating that I keep going. Well, I do, I keep going, I cannot let hatred govern my life nor my actions. Where is the productivity in that? How can we combat hate? By asking the question, “What can I do?” Then act, act with prayer, act by taking care of ourselves and act by taking care of others. We may need to strive to levels of humility and vulnerability, but then and only then can we overcome hate and become whole.
I of course will end with, in this instance, a couple of quotes by Dr. King. He was, and still is a brilliant and profound individual and soldier against hate.
“Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Brown, A. D. September 28, 2012. “The Effect of Hate on Children.” Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association. Retrieved from: http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/?p=2454