This is a time of heightened emotion in our country. Issues around race, feminism, gender, health care, guns, resources, global concerns… have us all rightfully riled over our rights, our freedoms, our sense of safety and of self. Making noise for change is nothing new, but the real time, ubiquitous platforms available to us ensure we miss no story of violence or injustice: each one ripping open every wound before it gets to scab. They will scar. We will all end up scarred and scared.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I wonder, though, is driving out hate realistic? This is a beautiful sentiment, but utopian. We can’t drive out hate with love any more than we can drive out the night by turning on every light in the house. I’ve always believed that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. If we lived in a world without hate and there was only love, we would not feel the way we currently do about love. Love would be meaningless. Love would become indifference, the way light ceases to exist without darkness. We would live in a monotone state, it would be unnatural, and we would plateau. Dare I say it: hate is not an entirely bad thing, it’s what we do with the feelings of hate that can be harmful… or constructive.
I know someone who (sometimes inappropriately) labels themselves with every trending subculture identity of the moment, speaking loudly about their want for equality and empathy from the outside world. Blogging about it, marching about it, social media-ing the hell out of it all until it just comes off as a bunch of self-indulgent noise. They don’t want to be marginalized due to their race but post hateful things about other races. They don’t want to be treated unfairly due to their sex or gender-identity-of-the-moment but express unfair, overarching perspectives about the opposite sex and cis-gendered people. They want others to have empathy with regard to their depression, PTSD, and so on… but post resentful things about those who are finding happiness in their lives and have overcome, believing these people are invalidating their struggles by proving there is potential they still don’t see in their own lives. At a certain point, they alienated me. They alienated my empathy, my friendship, and my support. In a want for motivating acceptance of these valid characteristics, they have become exactly what they “hate”: racist, gender-biased, and lacking in empathy for their fellow human. The hypocrisy is astounding, and they sadly can’t see that they are now counterproductively validating the feelings of very invalid people. Another thing that saddens and concerns me is the way this person is using their voice, one people have been paying increasing attention to. They are not inspiring positive change but instead are just creating more hostility under the guise of seeking acceptance. Their outpouring of malevolence as retaliation to the hate they receive from others has left me apathetic towards them: they are hurting their cause more than they are helping it, by not living the change they ask of the world.
I believe it is not love, but indifference that can drive out this particular kind of hate. If throngs of well-meaning blog readers and total stranger social followers didn’t “yasss queen” this person, their hypocritical posturing would lose steam (and traction). Sometimes ignoring it does make it go away. Instead of rubber-necking the trainwrecks around us and giving them the (positive or negative) attention they are actually seeking, give them indifference. Give them nothing. Yawn. Because it’s a pretty tired game. This is a lesson I’m working on learning, myself.
If someone were to ever hurt my child, I would hate them. A lot of things inspire feelings of hate in me. People who hurt children and animals, who steal, who kill… Misogynists, racists, homophobes… fill me with anger, frustration, and yes: hate. I’m a human being. I am not wrong for feeling this hate. We need to stop hating ourselves for the hate we feel. It’s the human condition. Here’s another quote for you:
When you’re taught to love everyone, to love your enemies, then what value does that place on love?
Using our hate constructively can be productive and help to evolve social change. Use your powers for good, not evil. React with intellect: educate the other side and validate those who feel the same way by speaking your truth and doing it with unflinching bravery and a logic. Let the hate motivate you, don’t let it diminish you. Use facts. Make choices in your own life that reflect your stance. Treat others how you would like to be treated. And pay absolutely zero attention to the 3 ring circus. Pay them no mind at all. Speak to the world, but never directly to them.
Sometimes it’s silence that can be the most deafening.