Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hate Breeds Hate

One of the motivations that spurred me to my keyboard in the beginning was the level of vitriol and hate that fills the blogosphere. I've dealt with this in various forms in various posts. But I've also seen, personally, the amount of damage anger can do to individuals. Naturally, it was a liberal (Shaw, in this case) that crystallized this from the truth and light that is my wellspring of wisdom into a single post.

The argument this time was over a post about the late Jesse Helms, who received praise from conservatives circles for his contributions to conservatism over the years. However, as Shaw was quick to point out through copious quotation, he was also a racist. Now I can't and won't defend racism or racists, as I have no tolerance for them in my world. But I asked a simple question: Why post it? My point was simple: He's dead. At this point in time, those who loved him and were enriched by his presence in their lives gather to mourn. However, too many people use death as a reason to bring up the faults of that person.

I have yet to get a clear answer.

Update: Shaw is closer to an answer. Here's a link to that.

My philosophy on people is simple. Most people, operating freely, seek to make the world better, to bring joy to others, and to seek happiness. Yes, there are parts of selfishness and greed and anger and prejudice in all of us. And there are certainly people who revel in the negative. Been there, done that. But I believe in good and evil, and that people are inherently inclined to good.

And that brings us to hate. Hate is an unreasoning anger, something that utterly dehumanizes the subject of that hate. Makes the person you hate someone you wouldn't mind seeing get brain cancer, or get lynched, or be raped and pissed on for a week while lying on broken glass. And hate, when given license, is a cancer of the soul.

I had a revelation on this in 2002. I was working for my father that summer, on a job in a factory. There, I met up with someone who was glad as hell to see me. Being the paragon of tact that I was, I listened and talked until I could figure out who he was. Finally, I got it figured out. It was someone from high school a decade earlier who had bullied and taken lunch money from me on a regular basis. What struck me was that he was glad to see me, as though I had been a positive influence in his life.

From there, something began deep inside me. That year was also significant for being my 10-year high school class reunion. Now, with the exception of a few friends, my high school days were spent churning out perversion pain and death poetry, and feeling sorry for my shitty luck. By the time I got to the reunion, though, I was ready to change that perception. And I was not disappointed, as with only a few exceptions, I found all the bad things I remembered had been washed away and most people were happy to see me. I managed to take grudges I'd been holding since high school and purge them. People I was waiting to see die so I could piss on their graves I now saw in a wholly different light. In fact, one of those people does read this blog, though he doesn't know the whole story I just shared here. (Hint: you'd have had to know me since first grade to qualify).

Now I'm not going to say hate is never justified. If a politician calls you a "cute little nigra child" then you have some justification. If someone betrays your trust and steals from your family, some vitriol is deserved. And if someone destroys your life or the life of someone you love, then it's VENDETTA! time.

However, there's something to the Christian principle of forgiveness. I realized this in the middle example I cited above and got one of my best friends back in the process.

So I return to the bloggers, some of whom produce more hate than anywhere else today. When you find someone who stirs your ire, consider what you are about to post. If what you will say or who you will quote will help solve a problem, highlight a threat to your worldview, or heal the damage stupid people have wrought, then give them the shit they deserve. But if all you seek is to open wounds, bring up the seedy and hateful for points, or blast people with vitriol, pause and examine why you feel this impulse.

Perhaps if we all did so, there would be a whole lot less hate out there.


Shaw Hussein Kenawe said...

I've answered your question on why I posted Jesse Helms' own words--not mine--on my blog.

Patrick M said...

So noted, and I'll add a link to that to my post.

Although I was talking about your personal motivations, not the logical motivations. Thus this post.