So I very humbly ask that you read this and read it carefully.
I’ve been very burdened lately about all of the hatred that I see every single day. Hatred against a certain political group or a certain religious group or a certain ethnic group. Hatred that causes people to do and say things that are inhuman and immoral.
Anyone can see these things just as easily as I can.
My main concern is how we approach it.
I attended a symposium on genocide these last two days and heard accounts of what happens when hatred is acted upon in the extreme.
I heard a man speak who is a survivor of the Holocaust. He told us his story of how the elimination of the Jews in Nazi Germany began. The Nazis didn’t begin to immediately kill every Jew they saw. Oh, no! It was much more subtle than that. Jews were incrimentally treated as second class citizens by slowly taking away their entertainment privileges, their shopping privileges, and their education privileges. Gradually, the people around them who weren’t Jews began to see them as lower class citizens - cockroaches even. And cockroaches needed to be exterminated. He told us about the day that they took him and his grandparents and brother to Auschwitz and how he was separated from his family. Through months of horrors that he experienced, only he walked out of that camp alive in the end. He later was able to reconnect with his parents who had been protected and hidden by a Russian Christian.
I also heard about the much more recent Rwandan civil war and genocide in the 1990s. The same thing happened there in that the Tutsi and Hutu tribes were slowly pitted against each other through the government, the education system, and even through corrupt church leaders. When asked why even the church leaders participated in this, the panelists stated that in Rwanda at this time, you were a Tutsi or Hutu FIRST and a Christian second. Through a serious of political events and assassinations, Hutu neighbors of the Tutsi violently attacked them and killed many of them. Many Hutus also died during this time, but my point is that hatred is what drove neighbors and friends to these acts of violence.
Why am I telling you all of this?
These are examples of what extreme forms of hatred can do. We’ve seen it in America time and again. The colonists and pioneers’ treatment of Native Americans; Native American’s treatment of colonists and pioneers. The treatment of Africans during slavery; the treatment of African Americans during the civil rights movement. The treatment of the Irish as they immigrated to America during the Potato Famine. The treatment of Hispanics as they even today flee from totalitarian regimes in Latin America.
Hatred against people of a different political party than us, against people who speak a different language than us, against people who are a different color, religion, dialect, income level, weight, intelligence level, lifestyle, whatever.
THE HATRED STOPS WITH YOU.
It’s that simple. Each person must make the decision in their own heart to stop hating people who are different from them. You know from experience just as much as I do that yelling at people or threatening them or even punishing them in some way won’t change the way they think.
Thoughts are the only thing that another person cannot control. Only the individual can control their own thoughts.
So when you learn to control yourself and your own thoughts and learn to not HATE, then you have made a difference. If each and every person learned to see the “other side” as a human and an individual who has just as much value as they do, hatred would stop. Violence would stop. Prejudice would stop.
I heard a quote this week. It says “Bitterness and hatred is like drinking a vial of poison and expecting someone else to die.” Being bitter and hateful destroys you from the inside. You may not realize it, but it does. It only leads to self-destruction.
I am a Christian, so I approach everything in life from that background. If you aren’t a Christian, I am not taking this time to try to “convert” you. That’s not my point here. My point is that this issue spans across religious and political boundaries. However, I do want to finish this post with a few things I have learned from God through the things I have read in the Bible.
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:12)
“The Lord detests the ways of the wicked, but He loves those who pursue righteousness.” (Proverbs 15:9)
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)
(meaning that if you spew hatred from your mouth, you will reap the consequences of it)
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:34)
“…Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6:35)
“Love does no harm to a neighbor….” (Romans 13:10)
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
We can stop hatred in its tracks if we make it stop with us. Choose to love instead of hate others. Consider your motives behind what you say to others. Why are you saying something? Consider the language you are using. Choose not to use offensive, foul language when talking about someone. Choose not to perpetrate hateful stereotypes of others. Make friends of people who are different than you. It is ok to disagree with someone and even think they are outright wrong! But respect and love for others requires us to not react in hatred to someone who is different from us.
Only then can hatred - and even hatred at it’s most extreme from through genocide - be stopped.