Inside me an image is burning.
Today we heard news that a cross was burned on a lawn in Nova Scotia. A bi-racial couple lived in the house . The gesture was aimed at them. Not at who they are as people – its doubtful that the burners and yellers care to know who they really are – but at what they are in someone else’s mind. It seems that someone hates the idea of them, and they are using a powerful symbol to express how they feel.
What could cause such hatred? What allow it to be expressed?
Whenever and wherever hatred is spoken, against any person or any group, it spreads like poison through the world we live in, and provides fodder and fuel for the ignorant and angry . And as it does so it builds division and fear – in both the haters and the hated. Hatred, as we have seen over and over again, has the ability to tear our world apart.
For some, it has this advantage. Hatred is lazy – it is much easier to hate than to think. Much easier to feel and act on that one sensation than learn to live with the complexity of life. The hater can simply take whole groups of people, lump them together as one, and focus all their anger and contempt on them.
Our leaders have a role to play. When they choose to act in hateful ways, when they make personal attacks or speak disdainfully of whole groups of people, that gives others permission to think the same way, and to express such hateful thoughts loudly and proudly. Those who are leaders set the tone for those inclined to follow; and there will, as we can see, always be those that follow. Following too is easier.
Among those who feel hatred there will be some who take the next logical step. Thinking that others find their feelings acceptable and reasonable, they will move from hateful words to hateful action. And therein lies the greatest danger, the one that faces us all.
Are those leaders who show and encourage contempt responsible for these kinds of actions, actions based on the perception that such contempt is normal, and hateful expressions correct?
It is something I am thinking about.