Watching CNN’s series, 1968, brought me back to that time in my own life when I saw up close and person the kind of hatred and bigotry we wanted to eradicate.
The other day I saw a video online of some mother screaming at someone and calling him a “dirty nigger.” This, with two of her children present. Her hatred and venom came through loud and clear. Despite legislation, despite so much work, we can’t seem to eradicate hatred and bigotry. 50 years later.
The other week I had an encounter with a family member I hadn’t seen in almost a decade, whose intent it was to wound. Her venom was palpable.
Expose it! Call it out!
In Toronto last month I had a late night conversation with a small group of women about the hatred that awful man in the Oval has legitimized. I suggested he may have done us a favor by turning over a rock and exposing hatred to the light. That evil thrived in darkness and couldn’t survive long in the light. Only by shining a light on evil can we eradicate it, I said. A woman of Caribbean descent who faces racism daily disagreed. My husband pointed out that when you are a target of hatred you don’t want to see it. I responded that we can’t fight what we can’t see. It was a spirited and candid discussion.
I’ve thought a lot about hatred these many years and wanted to write about it. And then I saw something my friend, Victoria Cayce wrote:
If someone does not know you, yet chooses to hate you, then it cannot be you they really hate. Their ideas of who you are, or are not, are simply a fragment of their projected pain. They are not responding to you, as much as it seems that way. They are responding to their own suffering. You just happen to be in the way. Remember that when you happen to be the target. People act and react from where they are. Don’t take it personally. People who are unable to love will never love you. Not because of you, but because they are unable. Measure your response accordingly. May all beings be at peace. ~ With much love, Victoria Cayce
I love just about everything Victoria writes (see her blog) but this message particularly resonated for me the week I saw it.
It is so hard for us to get past our horror, our anger, our hurt feelings and see the actions of others as based on their projected pain. We do take it personally.
And yet, Victoria is right. People act and react in response to their own suffering.
I know this is hard to swallow, but it’s true:
Those people acting out in 1968? Reflecting their own pain and fear.
The same with that mother screaming racial epithets.
And the same with my family member.
The question is: what are we to do about it?
First, we MUST call it out. We MUST. every time we see it. Call it out. Give it a name. Show it’s not acceptable.
Certainly, political action is important. Critical. Key.
On a more personal level, though, the only thing we can do is send love and more love their way. No matter how unlovable they are.
Because oh, how they need love! And their un-lovability has nothing to do with us.
It’s got to be more than words on a screen
As I finish this I saw a post on Facebook talking about a bad neighbor and asking for suggestions as to revenge that could be taken. I suggested revenge was not the answer. That the only thing to do was to send love and compassion that neighbor’s way as they surely needed it. The poster’s response was “Too late for that.” Ah, I thought. It’s never too late for love.
I looked at her bio and this is what it said: Love conquers hate. Choose love. I can see that words are one thing but actions? Another.
Love. Put it out there in great quantities. Especially today.
May all beings be loved.
Because, as I believe with all my heart, love is all you need.