‘2020.’ This was supposed to be the year of clear vision. Turns out that our vision is as cloudy and foggy as ever. Turns out that thick menacing and destructive clouds of hate still hover ominously over society.
I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video of George Floyd’s tragic death. From the still photos I saw, the question that kept ringing in my head was ‘what makes another human being so persistent in their determination to hurt another human being?’ ‘What deafens a human being to the desperate plea of help by another?’ ‘Why were the words ‘I can’t breathe’ (whispered or screamed) not enough to snap the police officer out his trance?’
The only conclusion I can come to is hate.
Hate deafens, blinds and numbs us to the humanity of others. Fueled and baited by ignorance and toxic ideologies, hate burns like a wildfire. The toxic fumes of searing hot hate can engulf minds and hold them captive in a reason-defying trance.
As with the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery, we see hate birthing premeditated and coordinated racist actions. Blinding, deafening and numbing hate.
Don’t think we’ll get off lightly by simply pointing accusing fingers at the perpetrators in these cases that have deservedly sparked public outrage. Look around you, we’re all drowning in a sea of hate; hate seeps through systemic injustice all the way to individual acts of callousness.
I’m thinking about politicians who win elections by bartering hate. They know the right buttons to push and like Machiavellian puppet masters behind the velvet curtain, they tug on the strings of their hate filled puppets and orchestrate disasters without so much as leaving their fingerprints.
I’m also thinking about those who are so skilled at spreading the odious fragrance of hate behind the anonymity of online handles. Armchair destroyers who relentlessly hound others online and won’t stop until they have driven their victims to the edge of despair. Like a deranged dog biting down on an already raggedy and despairing bone, they just won’t let go.
In their disagreement with the opinion of others, they shut the doors of their minds to the most sacred truth: all men are made in the image of God. All men. Your disagreements or points of divergence does not diminish from their intrinsic worth as a person intentionally and lovingly crafted by the hands of God.
But no, not so with us. Our hatred reduces others to their skin colour, ethnicity, immigration status, political views, physical looks and so on. Such reductionism and stripping away of personhood gives the hate infested mind permission to rain down torrents of abuse; after all, they’re only attacking an idea, not a person with rights, hopes and dreams.
Such perverse reductionism leads to a person putting their knee on the throat of another human being for five minutes without batting an eyelid.
It’s the same deafening hate operating in the high school bully who carefully seeks out a timid and vulnerable prey. The bully makes it his or her life’s personal mission to make the other person’s life a living nightmare. I’ve taught in schools. Cease and desist orders don’t work with this brand of bullies. In fact, whilst they are sat in detention for their crimes, they’re busy plotting the next misery they’re going to inflict on their already frail victims. They are relentlessly determined to cause maximum damage to their prey. Blinded, deafened and numbed by hate.
So how do we begin to unravel this wicked and infectious tapestry of hate that has a stranglehold on all levels of society?
I believe one simple way we can begin to do this hard but necessary work is to start seeing every human being as what they truly are – a one of a kind and treasured creation of God. I believe that if you saw me as God’s handiwork with no duplicates, you might just handle me with extra care as I’m irreplaceable.
We handle amazon deliveries with more care than we handle human lives that cannot be exchanged or refunded when damaged.
Final thought: we all need to enlist in this fight against hate and be ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other as we fight in the muddy trenches against bigotry and discrimination.
Rather than weaponising our points of difference, let’s harness them and together unravel the stranglehold of hate on our communities. It starts with you and me.