There was an article published recently that discussed Trump supporters and why Democrats are not being successful in challenging their support. What it boils down to for many of those supporters, according to this article, is that they look at Trump as “he hates who I hate”. Think about that. An entire population of this nation using hate as their yard stick on who to vote for.
Hate and fear may be our most visceral emotions and as such seem to be the most easily manipulated. We see it on both sides. Socialists and Communists versus Nazis and Fascists. I’m good you’re bad. More for you is less for me. You aren’t like me therefore you are bad and to be feared.
Even some of my closest friends have succumbed to this way of thinking with many abandoning long held friendships and relationships based on a Facebook post, Tweet or casual comment in a passing conversation. We are all being poisoned. We are retreating into camps of ‘my people’. We no longer look past the superfluous to see who we are excluding from those camps.
There is an old saying that ‘love conquers hate’. I’ve been thinking about that and have concluded that may not be the case. There are those in my life who have hurt me or someone I love so badly that I will never love them. But neither can I hate them.
In thinking about why that is I remembered a moment in the last Presidential election when then candidates Trump and Clinton were asked to say something ‘nice’ about the other. Before and after that moment it was the most divisive and hate filled campaign, I have witnessed in my 60+ years. But in that moment, each was required to look at the other and acknowledge their respective humanity. Each found a manifestation of that humanity in the other and expressed it to the other.
Even the most flawed person on this planet is human and that humanity needs to be acknowledged and respected for what it is. No one. Not one person, is irredeemable. There is no person on this planet who has not done something to benefit someone else. Some act of kindness or charity. Some act of forgiveness or encouragement. Every person has belonged in some way to another person. Even if it was only once in a lifetime and every other act was evil every person has that act of humanity.
That is how hate is conquered. By finding that humanity in others and by giving it the respect it deserves. We don’t need to agree. We don’t need to love. We don’t even need to like. But we do need to recognize that we all share a common humanity and that is bigger than our disagreements.
Democrats are not the enemy of America. Republicans are not the enemy of America. Hate is the enemy of America. In the heat of anger or fear we all need to stop for a moment and look for that humanity in others. It is there.
There will always be people who commit crimes or acts of violence against other people and they absolutely must face the consequences of those acts. But nothing anyone does eliminates their fundamental humanity. Respecting that is how we conquer hate.