Nation of Hate?

I recently sat in a Starbucks on a Sunday morning and tears started to well up in my eyes.

Why you ask?  Did I lose someone, did something happen to me, was there a wrong committed?

Not exactly.  I got emotional while reading the latest political news.

The news.

While I sat there here’s what was stuck in my head:

“When did we become a nation of hate?”

‘People were pepper sprayed in Kansas City last night.

At a political rally.

Pepper spray was used against demonstrators protesting violent and undeniable hate filled rhetoric.’

Why was this necessary?
When did we lose the ability to demonstrate peacefully?
When did we lose the ability to simply agree to disagree?

Why is the natural response to one side of hate just another form of hate?

While this hate begets hate (or violence begets violence) mentality is something that has been simmering in our country for a while now, my mind can’t comprehend the hate that is being spewed in politics anymore – and this is coming from someone who fashions himself a political junkie.

But what truly gets me the most emotional is this:

The hate we’re talking about during this year’s presidential race is not new.  It’s become inherent and intrinsic to the fabric of our communal presence.

It’s become almost normal.

It’s spoken on the airwaves and we’ve all seen it fill our Facebook feeds.  This is the same hate that is present in A LOT of church pulpits on Sundays (whether spoken or unspoken).

This is the same hate that has manifested itself in countless police shootings over the past two years – in Ferguson, in Cleveland, on Staten Island.

This is the same hate that turns LGBTQ children into homeless refugees.

This is the same hate that we’ve refused to name for such a long time for fear of ‘upsetting’ people.

This is the same hate that many of us have refused to stand up against.

I don’t want to tell people how to vote this year but my prayer, my plea, is that we don’t allow hate to win.  I also hope that we push back against hate in our speech and actions.

Don’t let hate be THE voice of ‘reason’ in your mind.  Please, please don’t we cannot confuse disagreement with hate.  As a nation, we hold contempt and hate people we don’t even know — we use definitive and declarative language that leaves no room for civil disagreement.

I’ve seen lives ruined because we we believe that hate can be isolated from the rest of our lives but that is not so.  We’ve confused hate for civil disagreement (because I do believe that we can disagree with one another without tearing the fabric of our lives apart).

We’re losing sight of the teaching power that disagreement can bring.

It’s not easy but it can be done.

Hate is bigger than one person.  I don’t want to admit it but hate can be as communal as love.

If we let it.

And I think that’s why we’re seeing hate at such widespread levels; we’re letting hate become our mouthpiece.

We simply cannot allow hate to fill our world; we must resist the spread of hate into every response, every thought and every action.

We need to spread more love.