Facing people who love to hate

(My preemptive caveat for this share is that I have not personally watched Senator Warren’s many other lauded, skilled, principled take-downs. So go read something else if you think this disqualifies me from making a “surface” comment.)

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I have seen enough of Senator Warren making the rounds of my (highly-skewed, self-selective) FB feed, in admiration, to want to watch this clip when Sue shared it.

Before I watched the clip, I glanced at the comments adding on fast and furiously onto Senator Warren’s original post.

It wasn’t the virulence and sheer nastiness of the hatred spewing out of many – most – of the comments that stunned me.

It was the -love- of the hatred.

We aren’t just looking at hatred alone. These comments – if they are meant seriously, and not just attention-grabbing trolling (does it matter anyway, making a distinction?) – don’t just sound like they are coming from people who hate.

These sound like people who LOVE to hate.

Marching at the front guard of last Saturday’s Women’s March, I got to listen to the slogan creators make up what they wanted the crowd to pick up on. “Trump must go” and “love trumps hate” I could not muster the sincerity to join in at full volume.

I have a problem with both. Firstly, Trump does not look likely to be “going” anytime soon. And I do not know what mechanisms exist that can make that a plausible option in the months or years ahead.

Secondly, the wordplay that can work in one’s favour can just as easily be flipped around. I cannot not hear in my heart’s ear the alternative battle cry of delight from Trump’s supporters – “yes. Let us ‘love Trump’s hate’ – let us love the hate that he preaches. That he personifies.”

I think what bothers me about this distinction between love and hate is, it feels harder to fight something when it comes under the guise of “love”.

We are all encouraged to “stand up for what we believe in”, etc. “Love” also comes with a positive skew, as “hate” has corollary negative overtones.

So it’s much harder to take down someone’s hate, when it’s wrapped up in that person’s language of “love”. “Make America great again.”

I ask myself these questions, because of all the cars that passed us by as we marched down St James’s, the majority smiling in support, there were two cars – coincidentally (?) both cabbies – who bothered to wind their windows down and shout discouragement at us. “What do you think you’re marching for?” “It’s too late!” And various other abuse that I chose not to let in.

What drives this behaviour? I wondered then, as I wondered here, reading the many vicious comments on Senator Warren’s post. What makes them want to bring this spirit down, to negate – annihilate – it? (Readers of mine might remember me having asked this before – ) what makes it so *pleasurable* to engage in thoughts, emotions and actions that celebrate hatred and destruction?

And – how can we change things?

I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. But something tells me, as much as one learns to draw strength from being and stillness, one also needs to learn to fight. As Elia shared with me – in yoga one learns one’s way through the standard warrior to get to the humble warrior.

The one battle cry I heard that morning that did it for me was, “There is more that unites us than divides us.” Hearing that chanted, feeling the vibration of the words issue from my own throat, sudden tears rose, to be swallowed down. Yes. I can stand for this. Somehow we need to figure out how to fight through to a common understanding that there is truly more that unites us than divides us.

And part of that may have to be figuring out how to catalyse the swop of a smaller love for a bigger one.

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