I propose that hate is the alchemy of turning life and love into death and despair.
For your consideration:
The pleasure of hating, like a poisonous mineral, eats into the heart of religion, and turns it to rankling spleen and bigotry; it makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands: it leaves to virtue nothing but the spirit of censoriousness, and a narrow, jealous, inquisitorial watchfulness over the actions and motives of others.
— “On the Pleasure of Hating”
William Hazlitt, ca. 1826
This quote could be interpreted in many ways and used by all sorts of “factions” on either side of many arguments.
However, one thing that continues to mystify me is the fact that those who believe their hate is righteous or sanctioned somehow tend become disproportionately upset when the group, race, creed etc of people whom they hate become angry at the accusatory and/or vilifying rhetoric that is being heaped upon them. If the people they hate chose to respond in like kind and with equal violence, the cycle of hate-fueled carnage is hard to stop.
Take anti-gay hatred, for example. A homophobe may spout rhetoric about how LGBT people are less than human, hated by (their) God, and their lifestyles are disgusting abombinations, etc. This person may feel gratified when other homophobes agree with them. Yet the moment a member of the LGBT community gets angry, takes offense, and responds, this homophobe often acts surprised, as if they are saying, “Why are you angry? What I say is true.” This attitude seems to believe that the accused don’t matter so they shouldn’t be allowed to protest, let alone defend themselves. If the accused is angry and responds with anger, the homophobe often twists the exchange to suit their rhetoric (i.e.: See how the gay person shouts foul language? It’s proof that he’s subhuman).
Another mystery to me is why even a reasonable approach falls on deaf ears. The homophobe seems incapable of “seeing the other side”. If they could do this, we could perhaps get a lot further in the effort to end hate. If the tables were turned and hetero rights were taken away, wouldn’t that same homophobe be outraged at the loss of his rights? Wouldn’t he become an activist to get them back, and become angry at the people who called him sub-human and said “God hates you”?
For some things there can be no compromise without at least one side changing their views, but why is the “live and let live” concept so unacceptable? If you can’t tolerate a type of music, is the only solution to ban and destroy it, and all those who create it, from the face of our earth? Can some people sit at their desks under a sign that reads “God is Love” and sign an order to murder all rap artists? Why is it so difficult to just change the channel?
If your “enemy” insists on a fight to the death, you have two choices: fight back, or wait to be slaughtered. Shouldn’t people who claim to be civilized and intelligent beings be capable of a third option? “Live and let live” is not as hard or repugnant as it may seem.
Now just as there are no compromises for some things, there are other areas where we do have to have laws to protect people that may curb the “freedom” of others. For instance, a non-offender parent can’t legally allow a pedophile parent to rape their child (even though some do, and get away with it). We have laws to protect children from rape. The harm rape does to any person has been a proven and studied fact. However, I have seen no concrete studies that LGBT people or their lifestyles, between consenting adults, that prove that “gay” is a threat. It’s all just fear-mongering from a position of ignorance, dogma, and hereditary hatred; a hatred that loves to twist things, including facts, laws, and interpretations of the Bible, to support its views.
If you look at the facts, which side has blood on its hands? Are there gays going out to catch and murder hetero people? Do gays beat a straight man, tie him to a pole and set him on fire? Do lesbians rape straight women to “teach them how women are supposed to act”? To my knowledge, these are all hetero crimes against LGBT people. I wonder if the murderers and rapists among my enemies have gone home and wiped the blood and soot from their hands onto the crisp white banner overhead that proclaims “Thou Shalt Not Kill”?
I am not anti-God, or anti-Christian. I am not anti-hetero; I know and love many people who are hetero and Christian, and they love and accept me. Yet as long as others choose to hate me and attack me just for being in the LGBT community, I have a bitter struggle ahead in the effort to remain anti-hate. Being attacked and having my rights either removed or never granted in the first place makes me angry. Being assaulted by those who are trying to kill me makes me rise up to survive, to defend my life. Do I not have the same right to defend myself as those who have made themselves my enemy? I didn’t create them to be my enemy. They chose to hate, to abolish, to outlaw, and in some cases to attack and kill, people like me. History has shown a long story of LGBT people being assaulted and murdered by those who hate them. Are there cases of LGBT people killing hetero people just because they hate them? If there are any at all, it’s bound to be a grossly disproportionate number. Most people in the LGBT community simply want to be left in peace – with the same rights as everybody else. For those in the hetero community who support their gay friends’ rights, that’s all they want to.
I see nothing but mass horror if the LGBT people were to respond in kind as their attackers do. However, I will not wait for the slaughter just because I do not want to fight. I prefer to seek that elusive third option of “live and let live”.
Something for all of us to consider is another example of hatred’s alchemy: school shootings. This tragic horror may simply be the rare extreme example of a person pushed beyond sense into a “hate for hate” response to endless attacks, humiliation, and the eventual atrophy of hope. In its place, hatred creeps into the heart, insidious and mindless. Even so, these people, so often children, don’t merely “snap” one day for no reason. There is always a reason.
In all areas and ways you may fall into hate, ask yourself why. What does it gain you, and what do you stand to lose because of it? Can you truly only achieve peace and happiness by wading through blood, or the pain of others you may not even know? You don’t have to embrace what you cannot agree with, but perhaps it wouldn’t end your way of life to simply leave others at peace in theirs?
As long as people hate and turn to violence to express it, be prepared to watch as they one day alchemize your love and life into death and despair. Knowing what’s at stake, isn’t a third option worth striving for? Live and let live is just that. It’s not so hard to do if we just try.
© W.R.R. 12/9/2011
For the fallen, murdered by hate; and for those who still strive to live in spite of it.