This post was originally published on Gather.com, and is reproduced here (primarily to try to keep my writing in one spot).
I must admit that I don’t keep up with my own posts as much as I do others. And apparently sometimes juicy comments are left with my posts. I usually try to comment on the comments… that seems to be very common… but sometimes I think they generate more thought than just a comment is worth.
“All perception is valid. Even diarrhea of the mouth and offhand sarcasm. Hate, as useless and destructive as it is, seems to be part of the human animal… If someone truly hates Taliban adherents, as the commenter in question very well may, and thinks that they deserve slavery, then that is his or her valid opinion. An incorrect opinion, in my view, but valid… My point? Love is the answer. Understanding is one of the most direct paths towards love. Dismissing hate as invalid does not help one understand where the hate comes from and how it may be converted to love.”
–Brynn: comment about Political Wrongness
Perhaps it is because I agreed with so much of this comment that I felt it required ummm…. comment again: the nagging disagreement would not let me go. And it’s not even a true disagreement: it is a question that I struggle with. “All perception is valid… An incorrect opinion, in my view, but valid.” I understand this point of view; I have adhered (strongly) to it. But I’m not sure it’s true. Is every perspective, every opinion, really valid? Especially when we’re talking about hate? I try to understand different perspectives; in most of my arguments, I try to look at it from the other view and that usually helps: I either back down or argue stronger. But is it always necessary? Is it always even beneficial?
In a perfect world, perhaps. But this is far from a perfect world. I know that I used to say that we should all look at the other side and see from that perspective in order to discover whether something was right or wrong. It helps to understand why the other person thinks that way, to “walk a mile in their shoes”. I still maintain that: usually. But rhetoric and greed and self-preservation and self-consciousness all combine with hate to muddy the waters in discerning right from wrong.
I do not believe that all opinion, all “diarrhea of the mouth” is valid. Much though I don’t believe in active censorship, I do believe that some writings should be buried so deep that you can only find them with effort. Good writing is powerful and uplifting, but used to the wrong end it can destroy. That has happened too often in history. If everyone read with their minds alert and debating faculties active, then I might feel differently… but I’ve actively seen well-written but hateful material take hold and have awful effects. Eventually love will overcome, but the suffering that happens in the mean time makes it impossible to justify.
Hatred should be cast off. Period. It has no validity in the world; it causes nothing but pain. I believe it is a cancer in our modern world of instantaneous communication. It grows and consumes what it can in the most unlikely of places. By the time it is noticed, it has already done significant damage: then it jumps halfway across the world and continues to consume.
As mentioned, love is the answer. I don’t mean that to be sappy, but it’s true. One thing I have discovered, though: understanding does not always lead to love. Love leads to love. Choosing to try to understand those who hate, you run the risk of being consumed by the hatred itself. Choosing to love those who hate, in spite of not understanding, you run only the risk of only loving more.