© About 1995 Barbara Grace Lake
I wrote the following article some time ago. Upon rereading it, I found it as relevant to day as when I first wrote it.
Driving home one rainy evening, a man at my off ramp stands begging for enough to feed his family. My companion indignantly demanded, “Don’t give him a dime. He probably makes more money than those who work for a living.” Really? He’s standing there, shivering in the rain. This is easier than working? Unfortunately, with nothing to give, I opened the window, saying, “I’m sorry, buddy. Have better luck tomorrow.” Unlike my companion, I could not hate the man because of my own guilt at being unable to ease his pain.
There’s no use denying that we dislike many things, and some of them strongly enough to call the feeling hatred. It might be a color, a type of music or a vegetable. Even former president George H. W. Bush admitted that he hated eating broccoli. While everyone hates something, most of it is harmless stuff. I have yet to hear of broccoli attacking anyone.
In a world few of us now remember, the period prior to World War II was our “age of innocence.” Yes, we were bigots. Yes, we were racists, but we didn’t know it. We didn’t hate anyone. Did we? It was the way things were. Besides, we had our hands full surviving the Great Depression. In that regard, everyone we knew, friends, neighbors, everyone was in the same situation, trying to keep our boats from sinking.
Then came World War II, the last time this country was truly united. Our enemies were trying to conquer the world. We passionately hated both the Germans and Japanese. They were evil. We were good. Our mission was to conquer evil, to free the world from tyranny.
Since then, the Russians (USSR), Cubans, North Vietnamese, North Koreans and Chinese came under our radar of hatred. We waged war against both the legally elected government in Nicaragua and insurgents in El Salvador. The enemy was Communism. After that, we hated Palestinians, Iranians and Iraqis. With the end of the Soviet Union, however, our enemies merit little more than a passing ‘darn’ or ‘drat.’
So We send American troops to fight in remote areas, like Somalia, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, places most Americans cannot find on a map. As hard as we tried, these skirmishes did not rise to the level of soul-consuming hatred. The protection of our interests, our shores, was not involved.
What then do we do with our pent-up rage? Without an outside target, we turn it inward on our own. Many, while denying personal bigotry, feel justified in hating others based on their faith, sexual orientation, race or economic level. We hate the poor and homeless, call gays and lesbians immoral and in defiance of God’s laws. As if man had the right to decide what God ordains.
We hide these biases under the cover of morality, religious law and/or political views. Very simply put, we hate anyone who differs from ‘us.’ It still leaves a stench in the air, and at times the miasma of hate is almost choking.
Obviously, we cannot forbid personal feelings. However, if you ever wondered where hate criminals come from, the answer is simple. We twist their souls, feeding them from the angst and hatred in our own.