Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Where's the Hate Coming From?

There seems to be a wave of hate washing over our society. No need to list the current events of bombs and bullets and bashing. The tone of our public discourse has become so toxic. How can we be surprised when actions follow suit?

Of course the negative political ads keep the venom flowing freely. Is there anyone remotely decent running for any office?

So who really benefits from all this division?

Politicians fire up their bases with name-calling and knocking down strawmen. They caricature the opposition, painting them as complete idiots.

Republicans want to poison the air and water. They hate teachers.

Democrats are recruiting illegal immigrant murderers to steal jobs and live off welfare.

Why do politicians talk like this? It keeps campaign donations pouring in, and it gives them a shot at political power. Right and wrong don't matter to (enough of) them. It's all about winning elections and controlling government.

The media also benefits from division. When there are big stories, there are big audiences. How much incentive does the media have to tone things down? Toned down rhetoric means toned down ratings and toned down revenue. Who watches the news when all is right with the world?

Can't we, the public, see where this is leading? Apparently a lot of Americans want to believe the worst. Apparently we like to give power to knuckleheads. We like to cheer for "our side," and want to eradicate those who disagree.

Those with the microphones are baiting us. Those who thrive on division have been working hard to sow it. We fight among ourselves, while the elite laugh all the way to the bank or the capitol. But we have reached a tipping point now. The amplified voices now fear that their efforts to divide us for the sake of money and power have worked too well. We have taken the bait, hook, line, and sinker.

But I hold out hope that there are more Americans who can see what's happening here. We don't have to believe the worst about those who disagree with us. They might actually have something valuable to say. They may not be evil at all. They may be interested in helping people. They may care about freedom and ending poverty, even if their pathway to "better" is different from ours.

Those who have all this power only have it because we give it to them. Let's stop assuming the worst. Let's start listening. Let's start caring about people--even those who disagree with us. We are smarter than this.

Jesus told his disciples, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 12-13) Let's make more friends and lay down our lives.