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The Man in the Mirror

While engaged in a discussion on Facebook concerning current events, one comment was made directed at me by someone I have never met.  It read: “I hate Trump and everyone who voted for him.”  My first thought although rather glib was, Damn, that’s a lot of folks to hate!  But then I really had to take a step back and think about that. 

I have been voting my entire adult life.  I have had opinions during all of that time.  I have never once “hated” anyone who did not vote as I did.  I can honestly say, I do not even hate those who do not vote.  People in my life have had very different views on things than I have.  I will expand this now to include people in the workplace; my neighborhood; my city.  At times I was the different drummer.  At times I was very conventional.  But never did that difference elicit hate.

The resounding complaint I hear about Trump is that he stirs hate.  I disagree.  I believe his presence in the white house inspires hate because there are so many who do not feel he should be there.  But hate? 

How can you hate someone you do not even know? 

I began looking up love vs hate on the internet to see what I could find.  There were several articles written on the subject.  One in particular I will reference at the end but too lengthy to include here gave some extremely interesting points which I will talk about. 

For love to turn to hate, there has been some sort of betrayal felt by the person feeling the hate.  That causes the emotion love to turn to hate and more quickly than you can imagine.  So, if you have never met Trump and do not know most of the people who voted for him, where does that hate (and betrayal) factor in.  Love of country?  Love of life as you knew it?  Whichever it is, succumbing to the emotion hate then closes the door on any possible negotiation towards a middle ground.  That explains the lack of by-partisan conversation going on in Congress and the Senate.  They have allowed the hate they are feeling to shut them down.

In a separate article from Psychology Today, it states:

Zeki & Romaya (2008) looked at people’s brains while viewing images of the faces of people they either loved or hated. The results revealed that some of the same brain areas were activated in the two conditions. One of those areas is the insular — a brain region that determines the intensity of an emotion and how strongly we take it to be associated with what we perceive (in this case, the person). The insular does not determine whether the emotion is positive or negative.

Hate and love thus both seem to be involved in the neural processing of what is sometimes referred to as the arousal effect of emotion (this is a technical term, so arousal can be negative). It seems that an emotion with a high arousal effect can quickly turn from positive (love) to negative (hate).(Brogaard, Berit, D.M.Sci., PhD, Psychology Today, Mar 27, 2018)

Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.  That is why we hold elections.  But to feel hate towards anyone who does not align with you symbolizes a more deeply rooted problem (in my opinion).  To pull all of this together – if the “hate” that is being felt is the result of a betrayal felt towards your country (you), then it would behoove you to identify that and work on changing how you react to that emotion rather than spewing the hate you feel and criticizing those who do not share your views. 

At some point in this standoff between parties, someone must blink.  If we break down what we love about this country and what we want for this country, I believe we are not all that far apart.  But backing up and point fingers at each other focusing on that hate emotion that has been elicited in our brains is serving no one; least of all ourselves. 

Do the work and explore ways that you and I can reach back to common ground.  Stop worrying about what candidate can win to turn this around and start thinking about how you can.  We rely so heavily on being rescued by that one perfect candidate that we fail to realize we hold the power to control our own destiny in this country.  Even more to the point, let us just take a moment to look at the laundry list of offenders:

  • We hate politicians – but we expect them to right all that is wrong with America
  • We hate racists – but we continue to focus on the color of people’s skin, their religion, their native lands
  • We hate the rich – but we continue to strive to accumulate wealth
  • We hate the police – but when we are in trouble, we call 911 for help

Perhaps the country that we feel has been so betrayed is “us.”  Maybe we have failed as individuals to reach out to one another and instead of focusing on which lever we pulled back in November of 2016, we find something we share right now.  Perhaps we need to take that magnifying glass we point so readily at those we have in elected office and instead turn it on ourselves to see where we can do better.  Could it be that simple?  Do we take credit for our success but blame others for our lot in life?  Is it everyone else’s fault that we as a nation are not where we should be in the eyes of the rest of the world? 

If we are each the face of America in the eyes of the world, what are they seeing?  Ask yourself that – and open your heart.  Please.

R-O-A-R!!!!

References:

Brogaard, Berit, D.M.Sci.,PhD, The Mysteries of Love, Psychology Today, Mar 27, 2018, retrieved on June 20, 2020 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mysteries-love/201803/it-s-thin-line-between-love-and-hate

Wang Jin, Yanhui Xiang and Mo Lei, The Deeper the Love, the Deeper the Hate, retrieved on June 20, 2020 from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01940/full

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1 Comment

  1. David Grossbard on June 20, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks Ellen. Enjoyed reading