I’m sure I am not the only one who is feeling unsettled with everything going on in the world right now. The truth is I have wanted to write this article for a while, but I have struggled with emotions about this topic, especially after the shooting at an elementary school in Texas. Let’s recap a few of the spots where hate has shown up, and I apologize that I will not name them all. We have seen gun violence including group killings, road rage, and as a way to resolve an argument. There continues to be prejudice against groups and individuals because of race, religion, gender, and nationality. Instead of working together as Americans, some of us want to label our problems as republican or democratic, and instead of having calm dialogues and solving problems, we throw crazy accusations at each other. I believe we live in an incredible country, but right now we have to make a stand against hate and violence. Don’t let hate win.
Where does hate come from? Silvia Dutchevici, LCSW, president and founder of the Critical Therapy Center, says, “We are taught to hate the enemy — meaning anyone different than us — which leaves little room for vulnerability and an exploration of hate through empathic discourse and understanding. In our current society, one is more ready to fight than to resolve conflict. Peace is seldom the option.”
Behavioral researcher Patrick Wanis says, “When we feel threatened by perceived outsiders, we instinctively turn toward our in-group—those with whom we identify—as a survival mechanism”. Wanis explains, “Hatred is driven by two key emotions of love and aggression: One love for the in-group—the group that is favored; and two, aggression for the out-group—the group that has been deemed as being different, dangerous, and a threat to the in-group.”
Psychologist Bernard Golden, author of Overcoming Destructive Anger: Strategies That Work, says, "Acts of hate are attempts to distract oneself from feelings such as helplessness, powerlessness, injustice, inadequacy and shame. Hate is grounded in some sense of perceived threat. It is an attitude that can give rise to hostility and aggression toward individuals or groups. Like much of anger, it is a reaction to and distraction from some form of inner pain. The individual consumed by hate may believe that the only way to regain some sense of power over his or her pain is to preemptively strike out at others. In this context, each moment of hate is a temporary reprieve from inner suffering."
Here are a few things to fight hate.
Have calm dialogues with a diverse group of people. Ask questions.
Surround hate victims with comfort and protection.
Don’t deal in absolutes like believing an entire group of people is responsible for our issues.
Stand up to promote tolerance and inclusion.
Report hate crimes.
Turn the talk away from hate to unity.
Interact with a diverse group of people.
Maintain a respectful, inclusive attitude.
Make an effort to understand someone instead of judging them.
Hate is an attack on our mental health and our community strength. Hate groups want to divide people and inspire fear. Don’t let them.