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How does one begin to talk about hate in all of its forms?
You could just throw a blanket on it and say it’s all bad and anyone associated with it should just disappear forever.
That’s easy enough, but does that actually do anything to mitigate hatred? Or does it just push hatred underground—which is even more dangerous?
Labeling things as bad and good is just a morality game based on the notion of separateness. It seems right, but when one tries to uncover more deeply what’s driving this behavior, one might realize it’s not so simple to just make a moral judgment.
To really unearth the hatred that is seen in the world, one has to begin to discern the difference between hate as an action and the person who acts it out.
One has to begin to see that the driving force behind hate is not evil, it is ignorance. It is to “ignore” the simple fact of interdependence.
When we ignore this fundamental truth of our “inter-being” (as the late Zen Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh put it) then the world automatically becomes a breeding ground for hate, as much as it becomes a breeding ground for love. The two are inextricably linked.
I want to note that the love I am speaking of is the dualistic kind of love, not the universal non-dual form of love, but I’ll save that for another reflection.
In order to hate something, you have to view it as separate, as distinct from something else. This begins a process wrought with unbounded complications. The moment I drive a stake in the ground and say this is separate from that, is the moment I become blind. For what is hate without its relationship with love? It’s an empty concept with no meaning. The sheer fact of love gives hate its meaning and vice versa.
So what do we do about this?
Hatred is easy when I don’t know who I am. When I feel victimized by the world or believe everything is out to get me, I begin to operate in a different way. Hatred, in some sense, is a protective mechanism against the perceived threats we find around us. People who hate others and act on that hatred are not evil, they are people blind to what and who they really are. To condemn them is to fuel them, because condemnation is a form of a threat, which instigates this process all over again. It is a vicious cycle.
So instead of condemnation, how can we begin a process of reclamation, of reconciliation, of true healing? How can we help people reclaim their humanity and re-establish their footing on the ground of inter-being?
We must treat them with dignity, even in the face of sheer, outrageous hatred. This is the real challenge of our times. It is easy to “other” people and allow our self-righteousness to drive our behavior. It’s easy to attack hate with hate. Sadly, this seems to get us nowhere.
I am not saying we just allow hate to run amuck, or that hatred acted out in violence shouldn’t be immediately dealt with to protect the innocent. I am suggesting, outside of these acute circumstances, a reframing of how we deal with it on a more macro scale.
I feel we must confront hate with understanding, with deep listening, and with care. We must see beneath the cries of hatred to the pain that is latent within—the pain of separateness. Through our actions, we must show that we can step beyond the boundaries of moral judgment and into a space of deep connection and empathy.
This process begins by taking out our own garbage first, by recognizing within the hypocrisy of hatred itself. We hate those who hate. We love those who love. But what’s deeper? We must recognize that as long as we take sides and pass judgment on others, we will be stuck in this vicious cycle of pain, forever.
We must each strive to break the cycle by seeing beneath our own illusions, by letting go of our judgments and striving to genuinely listen, understand, and authentically communicate with those we fundamentally disagree with.
We must live in a way that brings dignity to all, even the ones we label the most heinous amongst us. This is where true healing begins, and where we can start to loosen the shackles of all of our collective ignorance.
This is where freedom lies.
I see my own ignorance all the time. I am bound by my own judgements and my own self-righteousness. And in the wake of the most recent anti-Semitic rants by Kanye West (also known as Ye), I see a rise in support for the Jewish people, but I equally see a rise in the hatred as well. It’s a clear illustration of what I am speaking about.
West is not an evil person. West is a scared and hurt person using hate speech to create a protective bubble around his delusional sense of self-importance. West is not to be hated. As a Jewish person, I have dealt with anti-Semitism my whole life. It is nothing new, and I find myself tired of the same cycle I see every time this kind of event takes place in the media.
I want to find another way to uproot all of this, to burn away my ignorance to ash.
I feel the best way is to keep hate out of my heart in the face of hate itself. The only way to do this is to recognize truth. There is nothing separate from anything else in this existence. That is the greatest illusion, the greatest driver of ignorance.
I am going to work on dismantling this for myself—on treating everyone with dignity, even if all they want to do is to hate me for some label.
I feel this is the only thing that can break the endless cycle of hatred on this planet. We have to all take responsibility for our own ignorance and strive to bridge the gap between those we don’t understand.