Why Would They DO That?
There is this nagging voice that insists that all people can be reasoned with and/or educated. That there are reasons people do really bad, hateful, evil things. That there are reasons why a woman riding the train would punch another woman in the face and stomach and yell at her for being fat. Why someone would think it’s OK to force their own child/brother to starve to death. Why anyone would light anyone on fire.
With each headline I wonder, why?
Ok, here’s some advice, don’t Google “Why do people hate – fill in the blank -?” It won’t make you feel better. And by the way, it doesn’t actually answer the question.
Hate makes Headlines
The thing is: hate can’t be explained and it can’t be reasoned with. Can it? No, not hate like that. Hate that lives in connection with whatever malfunctioning switch in the brain that controls empathy, right from wrong, and gaining power through fear. There’s no explanation for that sort of appalling action.
I have to remind myself that the reason these events make headlines is because they are exceptions. No one sees the headline, “Family nurtures and loves their kids,” well, not yet anyway.
Of course, “Father teaches son to hate people who are fat.” “Mother teaches daughter to be a racist,” don’t make the news either. These are unfortunate facts, too. Rogers & Hammerstein got this right years ago –
You’ve Got to be Taught
“You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught”
One voice does not a person make. Can we count on our schools, media, and society at large to re-direct, to teach reason, and drown out the hate? And when the media, the schools and society teach and approve of the deprecation of others, can we count on the parents to bring children back from hateful actions and language?
People hate other people for the dumbest of reasons. I wish I could just talk the hate out of folk.
ANYway, the fact is, I need to let go of that hope and instead talk to the reasonable. The people who maybe just don’t know. The people who just don’t understand about someone processing life differently, that people may react differently than they expected. That we all come from a different place.
I mean, I find it utterly fascinating that everyone can make the claim, “You don’t know how it feels to be me!” “You don’t know what I’ve been through.” But yet, so many people can’t figure out, “Wow. I have no idea what it feels like to go through that.” or “Yeah. I have never seen the world that way.” *Sigh.*
Look for the Reasonable
A friend of mine gave me very good advice a few years back while I was struggling through the drafts of my “Essay: Arguing Eugenics,” she said, “Write like you’re talking to a reasonable person.” Ah yes, because that’s the person that will listen.
That’s what we’re trying to do here. Fill the spaces in-between with compassion, acceptance, empathy. Try to share and teach the reasonable.
You and I, we may not agree on everything, but if there is the ability to discuss and share. Then we can find the way. I can show you stuff you didn’t know before, you can show me stuff that didn’t occur to me.
Awareness, acceptance, advocate-ness* won’t change a person from hate to reason. But if all the reasonable people get together, maybe we can change the face of fear to one of hope.
*That’s my new word. I like it.