Opinion: When Did We Start to Hate One Another?

The Old Man

If this is progress, maybe we need to rethink progress

I wish it were simply a nightmare. At least you can wake up and shake it off.

But there is no waking up from the hate that smolders in America. Somewhere in our past, we took a wrong turn, ending up in a dark alley with no way out. How else did we end up with a nation so divided that a significant number of citizens want to break the US up into new countries?

At seventy, I mostly look backward. I remember a kinder world growing up.

Everybody walked or biked to school. Most families had one car, and that got dad to work. Mom sent us off to school and was there when we got home. If mom was distracted, it was not the result of electronic bondage. Most likely a ripple in the fabric of our extended family. She was never glued to a phone.

Most people had a party line shared with a neighbor, and it was rude to hog the line with inane chatter. The phone was for emergencies, essential communication to convey important stuff — entertainment value was limited to brief chats mostly to arrange real-life social interaction.

Are we better off now? People cling to their cell phones, always wanting to be somewhere else — anywhere but here and now.

People have not always had to work this hard or devote so many hours to earning a living. My dad supported our family on one income. He was an upholsterer, a blue-collar worker. He was a skilled laborer who could make your old broken-down living room couch new again.

On one income, my parents could buy a home, a car, keep food on the table and take a vacation every year. Now it takes two incomes, a side hustle, and many families still can't afford a home. But soon, your kids will be allowed to work, and you will probably need their income as well.

The Ohio senate has a bill pending to expand the hours minors are permitted to work during the school year.

Is this progress?

How about all work and no school so kids can help meet our ever-rising household expenses?

Back in the day, television viewing was limited to about what, ten channels? That was tip-top TV performance if you had a good antenna. Some households made do with three or four channels in glorious black and white.

With few indoor electronic distractions playing outside was the biggest draw for kids. Inside activities paled in comparison.

When the weather was bad, we played board games with real people in the same room, imagine that. We played Monopoly, Life, Risk, Clue, Battleship, and all manner of card games for hours of entertainment at night or when the weather kept us indoors.

Are video games a symbol of progress? I’m not so sure. They seem more a symbol of our growing isolation.

I remember waiting for the Sears Toy catalog to arrive early in November.

I have fond memories of paging through that catalog making my Christmas wish list. I don't think anybody gets to enjoy that delicious anticipation of waiting anymore. Instant gratification is all, and I want it now. Amazon will deliver tomorrow before 7 pm. If you can't wait that long and you live in the right place, we can get it to you in an hour.

Our patience is growing thin!

I was ‘frog marched’ to Sunday school by my mom. Dad never went. I endured it. I didn't have much choice. I had a vague sense that Christianity was a good thing for old people — at least, it did not do any harm.

Today's Christianity seems at war with everything. Christianity has run up against an ever-changing world, and it appears as though Christians can't handle it. Even baking a cake for a gay wedding pushes them over the edge.

“As long ago as 9,600 BC — Mesolithic rock art in Sicily depicts phallic male figures in pairs that have been interpreted variously, including as hunters, acrobats, religious initiates, and depictions of male homosexual intercourse.” — Wikipedia

How can homosexuality possibly still be a stumbling block and a festering point of contention today? This is not a shockingly new phenomenon, rather an ancient practice that's been violently suppressed for ages. While the enlightenment of our sexuality is progress for many, it is met with stubborn rejection and condemnation by Christianity.

That's when we began to hate one another.

While tolerance and a simple "Mind one's own business" could suffice, anger and closely nurtured hatred of "others," seems to be humanity's default reaction.

Have you noticed what some people do when they don’t feel good about themselves? If they can find someone to knock down and despise, it elevates their sense of worth? It makes them feel better about themselves. This seems to be baked in to human nature.

Equality is another difficult concept for our citizens to comprehend. How many times have you heard, "We are a nation of immigrants." Only to have it made abundantly clear that only Anglo-Saxon Europeans count? If your skin is tinted past the acceptable spectrum of white, you don't count.

We can collaborate to send a man to the moon, we can replace one's man's heart with another, but the exterior color of man's skin is the definitive separator that always divides us — a great chasm never to be spanned by understanding.

It’s so pathetic.

I remember elation the morning after Barack Obama was elected the president of the United States. I felt proud of our country. I felt grand that we as a nation had finally turned the corner on racism.

That was the last time I remember being proud to be an American. But that was not to be.

That was when we began to hate one another.

Electing a black man as president of the United States unleashed a firestorm of racism that has grown into the openly white supremacist movement we must endure today. It ushered in four ugly years of Donald Trump. Trump, a menace who reveled in our divisions and played upon our hatred.

That's when we began to hate one another.

It's not black versus white or Republican versus Democrat that divides us. Nor is it conservative versus liberal or progressive.

It is tolerance versus intolerance.

Maybe it's our loss of patience, perhaps it's the demand for instant gratification, perhaps it's our growing withdrawal from others, maybe we are all simply working too hard for too little — but whatever the reason, we can no longer tolerate the differences between us.

White supremacists can't tolerate anyone but their kind. Christians respect only their own. Heterosexuals want everyone to interact as they do. Conservatives can't accept liberals or progressives. We all live in our cocooned electronic space, avoiding human contact, avoiding interaction by sticking to our precious spheres of sameness, and hating everyone who presents differently from ourselves.

We began hating one another when we surrendered to intolerance — when we stopped minding our own business and began tending to the business of others. We began to hate when we stopped looking for the good in one another and focused solely on our differences, drawing upsides for opposing teams.

Our hatred has grown to the point some would rather take up arms than suffer the indignity of living with "others." But we can't escape ourselves.

Intolerance breeds stronger intolerance and rejects any concept of acceptance.

Is this progress?

Are we better off now than we were fifty years ago?

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Looking for solutions to improve our world. I write about politics, education, climate change, and any issues important to average Americans struggling to survive in a world gone mad.

Chico, CA

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