The hate bandwagon seems to be a long one these days, zigzagging through towns and country sides, extending their reach to help people climb aboard. For those of us who watch it go by and cover our ears against its noise, it’s something unreal – a trick of the mind – from a different time and place. It makes me think of historical times when people were less educated and fought with bayonets and canons. Or, more worryingly, recent historical times that still haunt the memories of older generations. I wonder if we haven’t learned any lessons at all. Perhaps in this surreal sense the hate-filled bandwagon rolls through another part of the world where deep-seated religious divides have fuelled irreversible resentment and our countries have changed places or merged into one. While some individuals might privately harbour hate towards others from different groups, this bandwagon doesn’t seem to belong in our modern democracies. Yet it does.
Of course, I’m angry at this hatred and its exponential growth and visibility. I struggle for words to express this that aren’t full of aggression and don’t make me sound as if I have hopped onto a bandwagon myself. Now that I’ve grumbled and shared news stories on Twitter and Facebook, I wish to raise the argument above the specifics of post-referendum Britain, the presidential election in the US, the rise of the National Front in France, and so on.
I’m reminded of a couple of quotes attributed to Buddha. The first – “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” This makes me want to do something useful or productive with my anger. I know, realistically this anger is not going to go away until the talk of hate and the hate crimes themselves go away. Thus, I continue to write and become more politically active, supporting human rights campaigns, news sources and political leaders whom I believe can help to bring about a more tolerant, inclusive society.
The other quote from Buddha is one which I must apologised for even quoting. It’s a hackneyed line, having appeared on posters, bookmarks and Facebook pages for years. Buddha said, “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love.” I’m not a big enough human being to feel love for the hatemongers, but I can focus my energy away from my own anger and hatred to love and compassion for those who are victims of hate – whether verbal attacks or actual crimes – or subtle references which elude public condemnation, but work passively to alter mindsets.
It’s hard to imagine now, but I’d like to believe that in time the hate bandwagon will lose most of its followers and its cargo – or lose its momentum with one wheel after another falling off to a point where it can no longer parade down our roads. Idealistic? Perhaps, but worth aiming for.