When you are standing up high on a pedestal of self-righteousness, it’s really hard to see way down to the roots of that terrible thing you tower over. You know you are right. You know you have the moral high ground. Those other people are so wrong it makes you furious! You are in the position to reign heaps of fire down on those terrible people with those specious beliefs – and you do so quite frequently.
And you feel better after you post with the name calling and the superior wit and the indignation. What a relief it is to let those people know how smart you are and how right you are and how wrong and poisonous is their mere existence. Damn you religious nut jobs! Get a job you socialist libtard! Screw you white nationalists! Read a book you ignorant trailer trash! You’re an orange cheeto loving dotard! Fascist pigs! Go back to your own country! Put god back in schools (my god, not yours)!!!
I’m not saying you’re wrong to have strong feelings about people who support the current president or the atrocious things he is doing. I’m also not saying you are wrong to worry about high taxes and feeding your family. It hasn’t been too long since I typed a few of those sentences on my own Facebook wall. One day I just decided it wasn’t getting me anywhere except angry, spun up, and acting out of integrity. See, I’m a recovering rage-aholic. I’ve worked really hard to change that and become a person with standards of behavior – naming calling and violent expressions are off my list of choices in how to respond to someone. And, yet, I have been sucked back in to this hate-fueled fighting on social media. So have you – even though that hostile, intolerant, hate-spewing person is not really who you are – not “in real life”.
When we react that way we give up our power; we give up our truth and our integrity. We say to the other person, “here, take my soul because I am following your lead.” We act just like them – we become just like them – we are just like them. We are fighting against something we think is wrong by becoming something that is wrong.
The hate is just not okay. It’s not. There is no moral high ground when hate is your strategy.
Hate cannot defeat hate; it’s a losing strategy. We’ve got to take our power back and come up with something that can help us heal the wounds in our friendships and relationships – and it starts with a compassionate heart and desire to be a better person.
Yes, there are sociopaths, psychopaths and really evil narcissists in the world who have no moral compass – no heart. These people are rare and I’m not talking about these kinds mentally disturbed people – I’m talking about your brother and your aunt and your uncle and your childhood friend who you suddenly find loathsome and shocking.
Is it possible – just possible – that these people we go after with venomous rage are also not the hate-spewing trolls they appear to be on social media? Are they different “in real life”? Are they just angry and full of fear just like you? I’m not excusing bad behavior and racism and bigotry and sexism and the vileness going on. I’m saying that all this hate is coming from somewhere and maybe we need to respond to that instead throwing more hate on the fire.
Hate comes from fear. Fear is the root of this dis-ease in our country. Hate-spewing is a symptom just like fever. Rage is a symptom. Irrational beliefs are a symptom. Believing lies and conspiracy theories from mentally ill propagandist is like taking poison from a snake-oil salesman instead of medicine from a doctor. And social media spreads this disease like the flu spreads through your household.
The disease is fear.
Can we cure this with more fear? Can we get rid of a fever by injecting more fever? Of course not! So why are we fighting hate with more hate?
The cure is love.
Why do people roll their eyes when I say that? Why is this such an uncomfortable idea?
Maybe because it means in order to act from love you have to change your beliefs. You have to be responsible for your own behavior. You have to think before you act and respond. You have to know yourself and your moral code.
It’s a heavy burden to love when hate is so much easier.
I’m working on a book to address ways we can #chooselove over hate (fear). It gives a look at love that doesn’t seem mushy or pollyanna – one that is comfortable – doable. It’s coming soon, I promise. In the meantime, here are some things to think about when you come across the hate posts and you want to reply or feel angry and outraged.
How to Love in a time of Hate
1. Self-love is priority. Self-love does not mean self-ish! This is not about thinking you are better than anyone. This is about setting boundaries in your relationships, doing your best each day, and forgiving yourself for your mistakes. This also means not subjecting yourself to this insanity on social media and getting yourself stressed and angry. Take a break.
2. Respond to a hate attack the way you would want someone to communicate with you. Think before you reply. Speak the truth with kindness and compassion even when they don’t deserve it – You deserve it! You deserve the calmness and peace that comes from doing the right things and following your moral code.
3. Refuse petty and childish tactics. I hate to say it, but act your age. No name calling. No character assassinations. No unnecessary vulgar language. Speak with integrity, poise and intelligence. And when you are wrong, own up to it.
4. Don’t respond to every invitation to debate/fight. Yes, people call us out and say things on our posts or in our groups. You do not have to respond. You can roll your eyes and move on. It’s hard. This I know. But the time and energy you waste adding fuel to the fire of someone already spun up and looking for a place to unleash – it’s not worth it. Love yourself enough to move on.
5. Realize that it is not your job to save other people from their wrong thinking. People are allowed to be wrong. People are allowed to believe whatever they want to believe. It’s not up to you to change them. Likewise, you don’t owe anyone and explanation for your beliefs. This is big. If you can stop trying to change others, you are halfway there.
6. Control what is in your ability to control. That would be you; your behavior, your attitude, your responses, your action, your presence in the world. That’s it. Just you. The great thing about that is that you are able to shine your inner light without care for what others think, feel or believe because they aren’t your business!
7. Know that your behavior is a bigger influence on others than you could ever have in a Facebook debate. Lead by example. It’s that simple. Be the change you want to see in the world.
8. Learn to let go of people around you who break your boundaries and treat you with hate. Eventually enough is enough. It’s okay to walk away from people and situations that don’t change and grow. Sometimes sticking around just enables that person to continue to hate because they can because you stay. If you have to stop inviting uncle Dave to dinner so that you and your family can be at peace, then do so.
9. Remember, it’s just fear. Fear is not rational. Fear lies. Fear is not truth. Fear wants you to remain in your comfort zone and not change. Fear will attack others. Fear is selfish.
These ideas are mostly ways just to love yourself enough to stop hating others. It’s a start. The first round of antibiotics to cure this dis-ease. (Yes, we may need several!)
Know that this blog is written in love – to help you find peace in this insanity and to start the change we need to heal.
Peace & Love,