By JOHN BUTERBAUGH
In a world seemingly dominated by fear and hate, various groups come to arms and battle with one another. They hope that their side will be victorious in the culture war — a war of ideas. The liberals view the conflict as love versus hate. Hope versus fear.
And yet, “love” according to liberals is perceived as hate by many conservatives. And “hope” is perceived as fear. As liberals engage Trump supporters on the issue of immigration and Islamophobia, many Trump supporters feel they are the ones who are hated. Liberals will paint those who oppose the entry of Mexicans and Muslims as “ignorant,” “racist,” or “backward.” And those who call for stricter immigration standards end up feeling marginalized and discriminated.
Could those feelings be valid?
When engaging someone with an opposing view, it is important to view this individual as a human being with very human emotions — love, hate, hope, and fear. It is important to recognize their qualms, but that doesn’t require condoning hate. Hate is begotten by fear and anger, which are not begotten by apathy. Rather, fear is caring a great deal about what may happen. Anger is caring a great deal about a loss or injustice that already happened. People who feel strongly about something don’t like to be judged for the way they feel.
Bigotry by Americans toward Muslims does not exist in a vacuum. It is a learned behavior.
Muslims perpetrated 9/11, founded ISIS, and have orchestrated terrorist attacks — these are undeniable facts. Americans who have lost family members in terrorist attacks more easily learn to hate their enemy.
However, Christians attacked Muslim lands, tortured Muslim prisoners, and denied access to innocent Syrian refugees. These too are undeniable facts. Those who been attacked by Western nations more easily learn to hate their enemy.
What these two have in common is that they feel their homelands and cultures are in danger. If one senses danger, their natural response is fight or flight. Recently, humanity’s response has been fight. Yet, this response merely begets more violence and more hatred. It is said that a pit bull only becomes nastier with each beating. In other words, hate only reciprocates hate.
To love is to commit the dangerous act of disrupting hate. It does not always work, and that is why it is dangerous. Yet, hating others and expecting them to love you one day falls in the definition of insanity. Hate only ensures that the scar of disconnection never heals and that a hardened heart never softens.
To return our fellow human beings toward hope will be a challenge, but it will be worth it. When dealing with those holding opposing views, assuage anxieties; acknowledge anger. Do not trivialize or belittle their feelings. Discover hopes and fears you share. Guide them toward the beauty and the light. Help them recover from their pain. Give them someone to trust. Help them rediscover love.
Hate can never do that. “Only love can do that.”