Hatred is something that the world never be totally rid of. If the pollyanish world view of some was really the case, then the world would not need militaries, prisons or even bureaucrats who seem to simply live to make life Hell on the rest of us. The fact is, hate is a part of human existence and experience but it’s up to each of us as individuals to decide what we do with that hate.
In 2017 I had the chance to come face to face with my own personal hate of certain things in this world. Things like my hatred towards politicians and my hatred towards cultures that perhaps I myself didn’t fully understand. I had to come to grips with the fact that I had become exactly who I hated the most.
While visiting Atlanta, my family and I decided to visit the Martin Luther King Historical site in the Sweet Auburn area. It was there that I believe, I had finally come to terms with the reality of prejudice and hate in my own life and how unintentionally, I was simply a piece of the problem.
I admit that I had never thought of myself as a racist. I will also admit that I never thought of myself as not being one, either. There were certainly things about other cultures that I didn’t understand and that I likely never will—largely because no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes.
In my life, I have traveled around the world covering conflict and reporting from the front lines of turmoil stricken areas. It seemed to be my life’s calling and my life’s work to carry the mantle and the burden of the stories in which I write and tell. But deep inside, I knew that there was a hateful story that I had never told and that I carried with me, tucked away in some deep cavity that I hoped would never surface. But this summer day, while sitting in the chapel of Ebenezer Baptist Church with the words of Dr. King playing over the speakers, I would come face to face with own personal demons.
Perhaps, I was a saccharine in my thinking that I was above reproach. I am a man with little respect for much of anything including the things that so many of us American’s hold dear. I realized there that even in the little town that I called home, bitter prejudices were still held closer to the heart than even the love of thy neighbor. I realized that from the courthouse to the White House, hate was spewing at nearly every corner. The message of unity and fairness was not always so black and white—in fact it was even more gray than ever.
The poor, the sick, the hurting and the DIFFERENT were under attack in America like we had never seen before. The poor were looked at as simply being lazy and unwilling to work. The sick were looked at as a societal problem to who we owed little more than a basic right to treat with a bandage. The hurting we viewed as weak and being a dredge on society, so we lock them away. The different, we attempt to silence because they threaten our biased world view—left wing or right.
I realized that my hatred for those who lock up the intellectually deficient and mentally ill was nothing more than mine own blindness to reality that in this America, we will never be recognized as truly equal. No democrat or republican will fix it, no advocacy organization will end it, no person will solve it. But in the end, it’s not us as a collective but rather us as individuals who can make a lasting change towards the world as we envision it to be.
All of that said, there is no change beyond merely what we individually do. Ans with all of the progress that we’ve made, we still have so far yet to go. As Dr. King believed, it’s not so much as race thing but rather a people thing, and we as people must be willing to recognize that we need to change—for whatever it might be worth.