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Hate is hazardous to our health

Describe being a parent to someone who has never had children. Can they grasp it?

The joys of being a dad were offset in fleeting moments of almost intolerable frustration. I can describe the colic my daughter went through as an infant. Words don’t do justice to what the sleep deprivation was like coupled with intensely loving this tiny person who was making my life a complete nightmare.

You have to go through it to relate to it.

Understanding my story doesn’t close the emotional disconnect for folks who are unable to identify with parenting screaming babies. If one never plans to have children, then my experience is superfluous and likely uninteresting because it’s not a shared understanding and never will be.

Perhaps one of the greatest hallmarks of emotional maturity is being able to respect and see value in what one cannot relate to. As a society, we are rapidly regressing in our ability and inclination to do so.

That’s the natural consequence of having narcissistic leaders, greed, apathy, ambivalence, and being chronically overwhelmed. We’ve long since become desensitized anything that doesn’t hit especially close to home.

I thought about all these things as I engaged in my Sunday morning ritual of coffee and reading the Bangor Daily’s website. There, prominently displayed in the top center of the page, was some good news – the Red Sox won a world series game.

But off to the left, in a small framed article…was the story of 11 people who were gunned down in a synagogue less than 24 hours prior. School, church, and mall shootings don’t garner much notice these days. We’ve gotten used to them – which is both dangerous and heartbreaking.

I find myself reflecting on a quote John Kennedy included in one of his more famous speeches, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I have no ability to relate to what it’s like to be a Jewish American, but I understand hate and I understand evil. I also understand mental illness very well and I know we need to stop blaming it for mass shootings.

Killings like these are far more accurately attributed to racism, xenophobia, and what we’re euphemistically calling “nationalism” these days.

It sounds like a patriotic word as I hear it used in social media. And yet any informed person knows that when nationalism is taken to an extreme, it leads to genocide. We don’t need to go as far back in time as the Holocaust. We need look no further than the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia in the 1990’s.

Maybe you see my thoughts as extreme. Maybe you’d attribute them to my being a “liberal” or a “snowflake.” I’m okay with that. Here’s my concern:

Hate is becoming increasingly normative, salient, and condoned.

I’m taking John Kennedy’s caution to heart and I ask you…not to agree with me…but rather, independent of your beliefs, your politics, or your values…

Let’s love each other more.

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