What would I have to do to make you hate me?
If you are a regular reader of this blog, it would probably take a lot. You have read stories about my family, about my struggles, fears, and my desire to be a better man. You know that I care about people, try to take care of them, and want to do what I can to help them. If you believe these things, you may be predisposed to like me, to think good of me. Hating me would require a marked change in your perception and understanding.
What would it take for you to hate a stranger?
For many Americans the answer seems to be, “Not very much at all.” Consider recent events,
A group of high school boys went on a school trip to Washington DC. They were standing near the Lincoln Memorial waiting to be picked up by their adult chaperones. Before they knew it, they were hated. They were called vulgar names, mocked and insulted. Because they were wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats.
While they were being mocked by members of “The Black Israelites”, a Native American activist approached them, pounding a drum. He walked right up to one of the boys, chanting and beating the drum mere inches from the boy’s face. He stood there, an awkward grin on his face, clearly uncomfortable. Some of his friends, similarly behatted, chose to respond to the taunts and affront by chanting school slogans. Brief clips of the interaction were released online, clips which painted the boys in an unfavorable light.
Almost instantly the boy and his friends were hated by countless strangers. On social media and in traditional media the boys were called racist thugs, losers, scum bags and worse. Their parents were threatened, their school defamed. The question comes to mind, even if they were wrong, is what the boys did worthy of hate?
This type of hate has been a part of our culture for years now. Most will not even recognize the name “Memories Pizza”, but its owners will never forget the firestorm that led to the closure of their restaurant. In 2015 the state of Indiana passed a law providing a religious exception from certain civil rights regulations. In response to the law’s passage a news reporter sought out the Christian owner of Memories Pizza, asking him if as a Christian he would cater a gay wedding (because so many wedding receptions have pizza). The owner, who had never been asked to provide pizza for a gay wedding, answered the hypothetical question in the negative, saying he would not.
His hypothetical response had real world consequences. When the report came out he was deluged with hate. The Yelp page for his business was inundated with negative reviews from angry people who had never been to his restaurant. Complete strangers made it their mission to destroy his livelihood. One woman Tweeted, “Who’s going to Walkerton with me to burn down Memories Pizza.” A man who started a GoFundMe to support the owners received death threats.
Memories Pizza is now out of business, destroyed by hate.
My own family has been impacted by hate. One relative severed ties with a brother because he had not voted for Hillary Clinton. The fact that he had not voted for Donald Trump either was irrelevant. If you did not share the relative’s political viewpoint, you deserved to be hated.
I struggle with this aspect of current culture. I am an opinionated man with strongly held convictions. Not a day goes by that I do not interact with someone who disagrees with me or who considers my opinions and beliefs to be foolish. I disagree with these people and think many of them hold positions that are worthy of contempt, yet I don’t hate any of them. I wouldn’t try to deny them their livelihood nor would I wish them harm. Some of them are patients I love and care for. Generally speaking, I find it hard to hate people.
Shouldn’t hate be hard for all of us?
Thanks for reading and sharing, and for not hating. You can subscribe to the blog by clicking on the subscribe link, thus getting posts in your email. Questions and non-hateful comments are welcomed.