The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. profoundly penned: “Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.” This is a grave warning of sorts. Hate does terrible things to people, and causes people to do terrible things. It attacks, degrades, compromises, and ultimately destroys communities, neighborhoods, societies, and civilizations. Hate causes people to be less than who they were created to be and what they are called to do. Hate devalues all of us.
I am grieved to my core at the collective low where this nation has been pulled. Let me be crystal clear: my purpose in writing this reflection is not to take a position for or against this or any other president; but rather to urge each of us to do our part to help raise us to higher, healthier, and more fertile ground. Individually, we can do our part to dispel this toxicity by refusing to engage in hate, which includes hateful words, actions, deeds, or mindsets. Let us employ reason, civility, grace, and mercy, for the greater good. Liking or not liking a person is not and should not be a pre-requisite to treating them kindly and speaking well of them.
So why not just write an article on hate and leave the president out of it? A good question deserving of an answer. Because hate is bombarding the highest representation of what embodies us as a nation. When the head is attacked, the body is affected, impaired, altered, and in danger of losing its way. This should not be. I say this regardless of whether the head of this nation is a republican, democrat, independent, or otherwise. And we are the body of this nation. Mark 3:25 warns “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
Webster defines hate as “extreme dislike or disgust,” and the online entomology dictionary adds: “abominable, deserving of curses, regard with extreme ill-will, have a passionate aversion to.” Some synonyms for hate include abhorrence, abomination, detestation, execration, hatred, loathing.”
The insidious thing about hate is that it destroys the very person who employs it, operates in it, and launches it. Hate has a boomerang effect, much like deception. The one who operates in deceiving others will eventually fall victim to the very tactic they employed. And just like deception, hate becomes the employer of those who desire to employ it. Hate and deception work hand-in-hand. When you open the door to one, you eventually get the other. They feed off each other, eventually destroying their host, and then moving on to the next.
Consider the following fable (unattributed): Once upon a time there were two men who hated each other. They did all they could to manifest their utter detestation. When one failed or was hurt, the other celebrated. One night, an angel appeared to one of the men and said, ‘I will give you anything you ask, but whatever you receive, the one you hate will receive twice as much. Do you long to be rich? You can be very rich, but the other will be twice as wealthy. Do you want a long and healthy life? You can, but the other will be longer and healthier. What is your desire?” The man thought for a moment, then responded, “Blind me in one eye!”
This is what hate does to an individual. This is what hate does to the body. When one invites this deceiver in, hate makes itself right at home, and then propagates itself over and over and over again until a society or a nation is destroyed; unless it is countered with civility. Civility is the compass that tethers us to righteousness and objectivity, and keeps us out of the weeds. Civility takes us to and keeps us on that higher ground. Civility prevents us from hating the other so much, that we would rather hurt ourselves than see the one we hate get a blessing.
If anyone had a reason to hate, it was Dr. King. But he knew the blinding effects that hate leaves in its path—the carnage it creates. And he knew that was not a legacy worth seeing.
With warmest regards,
(Photo credit by Ken Wolter on Shutterstock)