Pondering Hatred

Pondering Hatred

Why are we so deeply entrenched in our own ideas that we cannot understand others?

This little fellow reminds me of myself today, as I ponder a quotation I heard the other day on news commentary. It isn’t the exact quotation, but the idea is simple enough: One cannot dispel ignorance with arrogance.

This sounds easy enough, but our passion for our beliefs is strong. When we become heated in our arguments, filled with the zeal to convey our truths, we tend to disregard what the other person (or persons) is saying. We are too deeply entrenched in our own ideas to truly hear the thoughts of others.

I watched a documentary recently made by a Pakistani Muslim woman journalist who came to this country to interview people and learn about white supremacy. Her interviews were fascinating to me because she went in search of something I’ve been in search of my entire life. She wanted to discover what made these people hate so much.

The blinding fear

The simple answer I’ve heard for years is fear, and it does boil down to that. Tragically, some people are so afraid of losing their place that embracing what is “other” feels like they are sacrificing themselves in support of the other, whether it be religion, skin color, nationality, whatever “club” in which they feel they belong.

Because I have written about Turkey and Muslim practices does not mean I am going to change my religion or my nationality. My respect does not mean my acquiescence. People ask me if I am Turkish. I would not mind if I had some Turkish blood. I even explored the possibility, but both sides of my family came here from Russia. I do know quite a bit about Russia. I wanted to learn about Turkey. Through my research, I was plunged into a different world, a world I could appreciate for both its similarities and its differences.

A few years ago, an old friend came to visit us in New Mexico. My husband and I had not seen or been around him in some years. We ate at a local restaurant where we knew most of the staff. This man was terrified of losing his job because they were taking over his field. He did not whisper who the they were. He did not need to use derogatory terms. His complaints were loud and clear. This was a man who did not hold onto a job for very long because he was always right. He could not learn from anyone or from his own experience.

The art of listening

One of the white supremacists interviewed in this woman’s documentary was asked, “If nonwhite folks were forced to leave this country, and she (the interviewer) was asked to leave, would that be okay with him?” Initially, the man said yes, it would be okay with him if she was forced to leave. However, after she accompanied him to a rally for a few days, she asked the same question again. His answer had changed. No, it would not be okay with him if she was forced to leave the United States due to the color of her skin. Now he considered her his friend. She had spent time with him and listened to his ideas. To get him to shift his feelings towards her, she did not have to agree with him. She only had to listen.

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