Is Hate the Way Forward?
One of my favorite quotes is a simple saying:
“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Some attribute the saying to the Buddha, although the exact origins are unclear. That is unimportant, though; what does matter is that this quote is more relevant now than ever before.
Today, our world exists in a deeply divided state. The lines which separate us have taken precedence over the common humanity which unites us. It is truly heartbreaking. Many days, I sit and wonder if a path forward really exists through divisions which run so deep.
Many reading this will immediately assume I am writing solely in response to the recent United States presidential election. However, that is not true. Though certainly a beaming example of bitter debate and disconnection, it is one of many such examples around the world. Conflict in the Middle East. Kashmir. Syria. Venezuela. Rather than naming a conflict and then locating where it exists, it almost seems easier to list off random places and discover the conflicts that lie therein.
But this isn’t meant to be a description and analysis of all the divisions that exist in today’s world. There are more qualified people to discuss those, and I would encourage anyone reading this to seek out the relevant material and educate themselves.
My goal here is simply to reflect. To reflect on how much hatred seems to emanate from people today. For all the progress we have made in the modern age, it seems that we still find ourselves unable to listen to each other. Social media is ripe with blatant insults flying around from all sorts of people.
In fact, the irony is almost amusing. Humanity is divided along so many lines — political, religious, economic, etc. — and yet it seems that the plethora of factions into which we are divided do in fact have something in common: an unwillingness to see past themselves. A stubborn insistence that only one way is correct, and it is their way.
It feels like something out of a movie. And to be honest, it really is. In one of my favorite movies, a couple makes every possible effort to convince their parents to bless their marriage (the families originate from different ethnic groups). They eventually succeed, but only after much pain, suffering, and heartbreak for everyone involved . After everything, it was the couple that was hurt more than anyone. Toward the movie’s end, a powerful dialogue takes place. The female protagonist and her soon-to-be-husband are on the phone, discussing what the future holds. But the energy is different between them somehow; the joy and love that radiated from them throughout the movie was gone, replaced by a somber, deep sadness. In the midst of this, she says to him, “In our attempt to bring everyone together … have we grown apart?”
In our attempt to bring this world together … have we as humans grown apart? For so much of human history, the world was naturally divided. All the continents did not even know of each other. After thousands and thousands of years, we have connected the entire world. But what was it all for, if we still cannot bring ourselves to see each other? To understand each other? To love each other? It begs the question: is hate really the only way forward?
It certainly feels that way sometimes. I am optimistic and idealistic, but admittedly still have almost given up hope. Almost.
At the end of the movie, the couple still married. And after all the bitterness and hatred, the respective families accepted each other. No, more than that. They loved each other.
So why can’t we?