Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stories that fuel hatred

People are so eager to criticize those they don't like. The liberals pick on the conservatives, and the conservatives pick on the liberals.

All over the news that past few days they are talking about a shooting at a movie theater. A conservative posted to Facebook an article about how the liberals are blaming the shooting on the Tea Party. A liberal posted an article about how the conservatives are blaming the shooting on attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs.

Maybe some people on both sides did make unfortunate attributions of blame.  But those were isolated cases.  It is not the case that all liberals blame the Tea Party.  But conservatives, eager for evidence of liberal stupidity, latch onto one statement about the Tea Party as if it represents the view of all liberals, just as liberals, eager for evidence of conservative stupidity, latch onto one statement about attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs as if it represents the views of all conservatives.

When people hear stories that fuel their existing hatreds, they latch onto those stories, with little concern for their veracity. Conservatives latched onto the idea of a "Ground Zero mosque" a few years ago, not caring that it was neither at Ground Zero nor a mosque. When police use force against a suspect, liberals are quick to declare that it's another case of police brutality, before the facts of the case are known.

It happens at the personal level too. When we don't like someone, we see fault in every little thing they do. We complain that they are wearing the wrong kind of shoes.

People with this sort of attitude think they are so different from each other -- liberals think they are the opposite of conservatives, and vice versa. But to me, they look much the same. They are people fueled by hate. They are people consumed with attacking others, rather than with building a better world.

I think where it comes from is that people are hurting. They feel disempowered, oppressed, marginalized. To protect themselves against feeling crushed, they cast hatred out toward others.

It's not a problem I can solve singlehandedly. But I can do my best to do my part. I can refrain from spreading those hate-fueled stories. I can try to be kind to others. I can try to bring to light things of beauty -- music, nature, stories of kindness. I can join with others who are trying to build something better. Together, we can build something positive.

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