Posted by: chlost | February 9, 2010

Hate and Anger

The current political tone of our country is very scary to me.  The level of hate has increased in the past 5 years to a level that I don’t remember in my life.  Even in the 1960’s, the anti-war and civil rights movement was founded on love.  I think that the people who disagreed with those movements may have had a hatred for those who supported them, but there was no real public forum to display it to the general public. 

The news coverage in the 60’s and 70’s was primarily network news and the local newspapers in each city.  If there were protests, these may never have reached a national audience.  The people who were racist and/or bigoted seemed to join their own groups-the John Birch Society, the KKK, “select” country clubs.  The hatred was expressed in the middle of the night, behind closed doors, or among like-minded people in social settings.

I am not sure whether the current open hatred and anger that is being expressed by the “tea baggers” or Fox news, or the religious right  is better or worse for our country. It seems to be tapping into a fear of “them”-anyone different from themselves.  This includes those of different religions, cultures, educational levels.  It seems to stem from a deep-seated lack of self worth.  Does having it out in the open make it easier to deal with than if it is hidden behind closed doors?  The openness of the hate seems in some ways to legitimize it and make it seem to some that it can’t be wrong if so many others share these fears.

Our democracy is founded on the concept that all opinions are allowed to be expressed openly.  I deeply believe in this right.  It is very hard to watch others so full of hatred, especially those in positions of responsibility, who seem find it entertaining to pander to the lowest emotional levels of humanity.  It seems to be comparable to yelling fire in a crowded theater.

This is not just a phenomenon of the United States.  I have been listening to reports from Europe where there are huge groups of “nationalists” protesting the expansion of the population from immigration.  It is the same story.  “They” have come in to “our” country and  we fear that they are taking it over from “us”.

Have other cultures dealt with these issues?  Is the fear and hatred of other cultures universal?  Is it just a part of the human condition?  Is there any way to rise above it?

Education would seem to be a possible cure for this disease.  This education must start at a very early age.  Travel and exposure to other cultures is also a possible cure-but it won’t work for everyone. Look at the ugly American tourists. 

I want to know.  Does our society have any chance of being inclusive and respectful?  Is there any way to preclude the kind of hatred that is being spewed onto our public forums-the comments on internet articles, on the public airwaves, and in personal relationships?  Please-I want to have hope;  I have granddaughters here.


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