Love & Hate
Whether a side-effect of information overload or a methodical assault on our psyches, there appears to be a deepening divide that is threatening to split our country in two. Some people would say that this has already happened. I would say that, while the split widening, it hasn't completely fractured — at least not yet.
If this trend continues, individuals are liable to witness an uptick in cruelty and intolerance towards the infamous "other" that we hear so much about on both ends of the political spectrum. So what can we do to mend the rifts and heal the souls of ourselves and our neighbors?
I have found myself asking this question more and more. As far as I can tell, it's a question that appears to defy a simple answer. As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated not that long ago:
Hate cannot drive out hate…
He even goes so far as to tell us what can (drive out hate):
…only love can do that.
But what exactly does he mean by this statement? And how can we apply this teaching in a practical (and effective) manner?
It was difficult for me to unpack all of this without a working definition of hate. From a philosophical perspective, hate can be viewed as the complementary opposite of love. To put in in more religious terms, love brings together and hate drives apart. In other words, hating the hater isn't going to help.
This doesn't mean that one should ignore those who seek to divide us, however, it just indicates that we need to adopt a different strategy. In the undergraduate classes I taught, I always emphasized that the goal of self-defense is to "maintain one's safety," rather than simply "defending oneself".
While it is true that one may need to defend themselves in a physical manner, the goal of "maintaining one's safety" allows for someone to explore a broader range of options. Then what options do we have in our current political climate? A very powerful one:
Take the time to talk with people holding different viewpoints from yours — they just might surprise you. I know that this has been true for me. This doesn't mean that you have to change your views or you theirs.
It simply means that you engage with each other as human beings. Ones with different life experiences and life stories. Who knows, you might even end up enjoy playing with the different perspectives once the discomfort dissipates.