How to deal with the politics of hate

Brexit, Pauline Hanson, Rise Up Australia. Hatred and rejection are alive and well in the world and politics. I was disturbed by the number of candidates and political parties in the Australian election whose platform centered around exclusion. There is so much hate and fear in the political discourse! I found myself getting angry with the candidates, and with the supporters who spruiked the same hateful vitriol.

Here’s the thing.

We echo what we judge.

My disdain was another face of the same head – of Us versus Them. I was taking the moral high ground, just like the people I criticised.

We perpetuate what we reject.

The only way out of this negative spiral was to face what I loathe and find a new way of engaging. Pooh-poohing is just another form of cavalier dismissal.

So I sat and contemplated the perspective of those I see as narrow-minded and ignorant. I considered what might drive them to their point of view. I searched deeply for any common ground that might unplug the bile that rose as I thought of their politics of hate.

I couldn’t get past the despair I felt knowing this kind of divisive narrative erodes peace and holds us back as a human society.

I kept trying. I tried to imagine each of them as an infant. We are all born innocent, seeking only love, acceptance, and delighting in the joys of the world. It is only on our journey that we start to form distinctions of right and wrong and learn either love or hate. The most hateful people as adults started as vulnerable and trusting infants.

I can’t say this was easy. It is much simpler to label people as ignorant bigots. But in seeing their origins as innocent babies it helped me to find a speck of compassion and hope.

I want to believe in the goodness of people. I want to believe in the greater human spirit that is filled with love, compassion, and care. I want to be part of THAT conversation.

It doesn’t mean we ignore the politics of hate, or quietly accept it. We need to hold accountable those who would stir violence and discrimination. It means we reach past the inflammatory diatribe and elevate the discourse beyond division to unity, from fear to constructive collaboration. We need voices of compassion to cool the flames of hate.

And if we look, we can see some of these voices seeping through the cracks and softening the dried landscape of hate.

I am grateful to my friend Andy who shared this awesome video of one of Charlie Chaplin’s only speaking roles in a 1940 movie called the Great Dictator, where he is mistaken for a political figure, and gives one of the most inspiring and uplifting speeches ever. Watch it here

I am also grateful to my friend Oscar Trimboli  who shared this Canadian beer commercial that celebrates diversity in Canadian culture. Australia needs this. Watch it here

How will you add your voice of compassion? What will you do to promote constructive collaboration? What kind of world do you want to be part of? We need your voice. Please share it.


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