On the Politics of Hate, Fear, Anger, and Love
Posted on October 19, 2008 at 4:34 am
We are living in a moment of great fear, of anger, of hate and in a world suffering the many diseases of so called civilization. We are oppressed not only by the viral and bacterial scourges that have been with us throughout time, but also by deep psychic illnesses that bore through our spiritual centers. The modern malady of high anxiety is just one symptom of a condition caused by our attempts to buy ourselves into eternity, to find meaning in objects that will ultimately pass into dust as will we all. For many who grow rich or wish to do so, who stuff themselves with the heavy foods of materialism, who cannot stop for the fear of scarcity and who grow nauseous with insatiable desire, there is the grasping terror of loss.
When we awaken with the hangover of consumption, we must confront ourselves in the mirror, faces puffy with overindulgence. Who am I? What is my purpose? What do I do with this life? Why am I not satisfied? We recognize ourselves vaguely in that mirror, and realize that these questions must be confronted. We cannot evade them forever. They weigh us down, preventing our next step. But where do we begin? Materialism fails us, our work is rote, just paths to meaningless acquisition and accumulation, false protections from loneliness, alone on a planet of billions.
This anxiety generates a sense of great need—for comfort, connection, meaning, love, truth—presumed antidotes to this suffering. And this need, this psychic demand, yields legions ready and waiting to satisfy. Groups of every sort, from the religious to the political, many fueled with ideological dogmas and singular world visions, ready to take us in, to feed our starving souls, to provide big new families complete with hugs of truth. Organizations run by leaders whom are themselves suffering from this same emptiness, leaders attempting to prop up their own teetering inner worlds, feebly attempting to soothe their own anxiety with the adulation of others. “Come to us”, they say, “Feel the love, and you will no longer be alone.” But these singular visions of truth require borders, places where the true and false are delineated. On the other side of “truth”, these leaders point to the realm of deception, and ignorance, of lies. A singular truth demands its opposite and the fence that divides the two is fear. And one becomes convinced that to cross that border is to cross an ocean of devouring demons where one will drown in the temptations of false gods. So one must stay clear of that dangerous line, safely on the right side of it.
And the holders and protectors of those singular truths know very well how to secure that wall of fear. It is through creation of the “other”, the “other” who believes the “untruth”, who accepts the “lies” that threaten the version of the way things really are. But are not the “others” human as well, one might ask. “No”, say the holders of the “one truth”. “They are not!”
We are currently witnessing the active construction of the “other” on the campaign trails of America. Sara Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, describes the “other” America, peopled by ones who are not like “us”, who see America differently, who cavort with terrorists. Her surrogates name the Democratic Presidential candidate Barack HUSSEIN Obama, to generate, solidify, and push the fear of the other. She wants us to hate the other because, she suggests, in the case of Obama, his very existence threatens us. If the other is real, if his ideas are true, then ours must be false, because the world is a singular world, where there can only be one truth governing. A narrow monotheistic vision, concretized, frozen into a hard and brittle story of the cosmos, demands its own telling, and those who question this tale must be killed–literally, metaphorically, or politically–because those who threaten the one true story become a threat to the very existence of those who have slowly and subtly become the story.
This Horde of Singular Truth needs to hate and its hate is fueled by fear and by anger. Night after night we watch the Horde being pumped up, primed by skilled tellers of hateful stories. We must never say that Serbia or Rwanda cannot happen here, that the death camps of history, those places that lie beyond our senses of self recognition, that those places cannot take root in our “land of freedom”. For they are already here. They exist deep within us all. We must recognize this darkness, and know when these quiet fires are being stoked by demagogues and ideologues, those “politicians” who want only to create a horde that will kill for them, a horde that will submerge its humanity beneath toxic waters of fear, all in the name of a false sense of oneness, of connection, of family, a terrified horde manipulated by leaders ready to exploit the hungry masses, a horde ready to do the bidding of its masters.
But there is another way, for we are more than hate, fear and anger. We are also love and love is the force that rises above, that takes hate and fear into its compassionate embrace and with its transformative power illuminates the simple truth that we are all “others” and we are all “one” and that it is only through the paradoxical reconciliation of these forces that we may harness the power of our humanity—as individuals, as families, as world. It is here that we connect, where our great and natural desire to really be with others is satisfied, where our humanness can be most fully expressed. And it is then that our need to consume, to fill the emptiness in our souls, vanishes. For we are full with the sweet knowing that to touch another persons heart, mind, and soul with kindness and caring, is to fulfill our lives deepest purpose. And I look to Barack Obama with a hope that he understands this simple truth, that he knows this place in his heart, for this is the place where compassion is born, where we begin to truly see each other for all of our beautiful sameness and difference, where we can all come together in the pure love of human connection.
Yes, I pray that Obama is a candidate of love.
Yes, I think we all need to pray for that.