As Marianne Williamson might say, hate has no place in our hearts or our country.
While the argument goes on in a senseless never-ending drone as to whether hate crimes are on the increase or rather it just looks that way because more agencies are reporting them, a very simple point goes ignored: even one hate crime is one too many.
But, why do we hate? Psychologists point to many factors including the fear of others or cultures that are different; fear of aspects of our own selves that we project onto others; our family and cultural histories, portions of which get passed down through generations; lack of compassion, and the need to belong or to fill a void in our lives. Many times, it may be a dangerous combination of some or all these factors.
I also think that there are other contributing factors to the underlying “hatred,” and that each hate crime needs to be analyzed individually to obtain a better understanding of their origins. The speed of societal change may be a contributing factor. For example, there have been great strides over a comparatively short period of time in LGBTQ rights which may prove jarring to some. A majority of people, fortunately, deal with such rapid changes in a manner of acceptance, or at the very least, they keep their biases to themselves and go about their lives. However, the dangers come from those in society that are disenfranchised and irrationally see such rapid changes as threats that need to be combated.
Religious hatred has been around since the beginning of religion, but in this country, it has ebbed and flowed throughout our history based sometimes on world events. For example, I can remember as a kid during the Iran hostage crisis, the hatred spewed irrationally against Iranians in this country who fled the revolution and were very pro-American. The same goes now that, after 9/11, some feel that those of the Muslim faith are trying to destroy the United States from within.
Racial hatred has also been around, unfortunately, for far too long and will take us all, collectively and diligently, to battle the abhorrent ignorance of the belief, held by too many, in some racial superiority fantasy. It is the responsibility of all of us to help raise a generation that can one day be as free as possible to move beyond our racially unjust legacy.
Economics also plays a role in hate crimes. One group has more and wants to keep it or wants more and plans to take it. Too often this can lead to said group demonizing another group irrationally as the reason they don’t have what they “deserve” in terms of possessions or wealth. This twisted economics bias has led not only to individual hate crimes but to genocide as well.
What can we do? We can start by standing up for, helping out, befriending any person who is marginalized or hated because of their ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. I may be a dreamer, but hopefully, I’m not the only one.