The Culture of Hate

So I blundered into reading a piece about Michele Bachmann's call to arms the other day.  I don't dare link anything to her name for fear I will be inundated with hate mail from her minions.  As usual, however, when I began to write this post, I started off with the usual disclaimer to ward off the crazies.  The it occurred to me, why am I having to write two or three paragraphs at the beginning of every post, it seems like, reminding readers that I try to remain squarely in the middle of all arguments, religious dogma, and politics?  Well, it would be because while I don't really care if I offend someone by being open-minded, I really want to remind those who lean one way or another that I DO have an open mind.

The reason why?  Because, as you may have heard, "It's cool to hate."  (The Offspring. I'm an Offspring fan, by the way, which might offend some of you).  While I say it is "cool to hate" with my tongue planted firmly in cheek, given the attitude of many on the Internetz, it sure seems so.  There's nothing like an unpopular thought being thrown out there to cause an attack.  I am a believer in respectful and considerate dialogue.  And yes, I have tried to listen to Bachmann's ranting and there is nothing there based in fact, so I am left to try to avoid anyone who genuniely believes she has something to say.  But trust me, there are others on the other side of the discussions that I'm not fond of either, but she, unfortunately, brings out the worst in every aspect of what she is trying to embrace.

Well, to shorten the trip for some of you who read me regularly (and know where I stand), I'm going to omit the disclaimers and point people to the newly constructed "Preamble" that you can find at the top of the page.  When you doubt what I am saying, go there and remind yourself.  Because like I told someone the other day, I like to throw grenades.  Some people can't live with that, but what I like to do with my closest friends is to send them something, like an e-mail, with some sort of thought, and ask, "What if?"

I come from the school of the Socratic means of narrowing my hypotheses of the world.  I ask questions to cause you to reflect on the deeper meaning, to stimulate critical thinking.  I do this because these days, that doesn't happen a lot.  Individuals don't have time to think; they want to be told what to think.  Just sum it up in some bullet points and make sure it falls into my nice little package of philosophy, por favor.

I'm begging you all to think for yourselves.  Even when it seems like you like what someone says, ask yourself, what about the opposite viewpoint?  Ask yourself to challenge that thought and realize that maybe what seems to be isn't quite as simple as it seems.  Any idiot with two brain cells can march in lockstep with the "cool guys".  Hate comes from misunderstanding and fear.

Challenge your ability to look at the picture from different viewpoints.  The maturity in those actions will cause you to be more careful with your thoughts and the things you say.  You will also be surprised at how people around you begin to do the same.  There is no reason in the world to be so afraid of others that you can't listen to what they say.  Regardless of whether or not you think they are right, by listening to the discussion, if anything, it helps you to strengthen your own beliefs and values.  But just hating someone or being a troll for the sake of trolling doesn't result in anything except conflict and intractability.

Be a thinker. Be a leader.  Be a positive example to others and achieve enlightenment.

2 Comments

  • NathanStults says:

    I love your message, in this post and in general. Our culture is lacking in strong voices to remind us we aren’t just helpless automatons beholden to some self serving “system” that keeps us supplied with TV programming and iPhone’s in exchange for complete control over our thoughts and behavior – that in fact we are both capable of and responsible for independent thought and action, and that at the same time we’re all humans struggling to make sense of whatever this is that is happening and should afford each other the same respect we are so certain we ourselves deserve.

    I think it is also useful to remember – or to take on faith if necessary – that everybody is doing the best they can, Michele Bachmann and minions included. The “crazies” and “haters” and extreme right/left wingers with seemingly logic-less, society destroying agendas brimming with hypocrisy, secretarianism and just plain old self serving, intolerant ideology are nevertheless intelligent people wielding the tools they have been given in order to navigate the world in which they find themselves. As are we all.

    In addition to being willing to listen to those with whom we think we disagree, and willing to question our own gut reactions and intuition (which are really just preconceived notions wearing wizards hats), we might also consider choosing to perceive those with whom we disagree most violently as reflections of some piece of ourselves and be grateful to them rather than furious at them for teaching us something important about ourselves. They are illustrations or caricatures of what we don’t want to be or become, counterweights that are an absolutely necessary component of our own growth, every bit as necessary as our heros and idols in illuminating our way forward and defining who we are as individuals.

    Someday as a species we will look back on all this and laugh at how seriously we took ourselves, how we’re all basically the same person sent on the same glorious snipe hunt but with a different array of gear, maps, guides and instructions.

    Until then we need people like you to keep reminding us that we aren’t on rails – that we must stay awake and conduct ourselves intentionally rather than reactively – it is the voices like yours that keep us from devolving fully into madness. Keep up the good work πŸ™‚

    • Mick Mayers says:

      Thanks for sharing that perspective. And I certainly agree that while even the craziest seem, well, crazy, there is some truth to their message, or at least their perception of the issues, that we need to reflect on. Even when it is most difficult to do so.

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