I find it curious in today’s political climate that entire platforms seem to be based on who and what we are against. As a point of reference, for the last several years it feels like most of the Republican commercials that I’ve seen around election times have all had a common theme – “I hate Barrack Obama – vote for me.” Not so much vision or strategy regarding the future. Just a solid commitment to not do it the way Obama did it – whatever way that is.
I’ve been listening to some of the Republican National Convention this week and the same theme seems to be continuing. Although there may not be unanimity regarding whether Donald Trump should be the nominee (which he now is) there does seem to be unanimity regarding who should not be president – Hilary Clinton. Thus the entire choice seems to descend into the pool of who we hate as opposed to who or what we like.
If I might say so – it doesn’t take a lot of effort to build a platform off of what or who you hate. What feels a lot harder is the work of deciding what we are for.
Now – this isn’t all about republicans. Democrats can be found doing the same thing. But to push even farther – this isn’t just about politics. There are all kinds of other categories of this life that are so much easier to take the role of “hater” in. For instance – all those problems at work – let’s find a scape goat. Is it the boss? The secretary? That coworker? They are really screwing this place up! Am I right? I mean – I don’t know who I’m for here – but I sure do know who I’m against!
Or how about religion? Surely the world would be a better place without those Muslims. Am I right? I mean – even if I don’t know much about religion of any kind – it doesn’t matter – it’s just so much easier to blame “them.”
The list of opportunities to cast stones is unending – our parents, our kids, our neighbors, our circumstances, the temperature outside, the direction of the wind….do I need to keep going?
Sometimes I think that the default of hate and blame are so attractive because the work and effort of a positive movement is so hard – and it’s so risky. I just read about a picnic that happened in Wichita, KS yesterday. There was a group or two that was wanting to hold a protest/march surrounding the killings that have been happening around our country. But the local police asked those groups if they would be willing to meet them at a park for a picnic instead – and they did it! The police even fixed food for everyone. From what I have read and seen – it seems like it was a well-attended and positive event.
That feels like the hard work to me. The gutsy work. Wouldn’t it have just been easier to have used the police invitation to affirm an argument that cops are just trying to manipulate the public again? To undergird the argument that they are just trying to buy off the public’s trust – to try to make nice when they’re really the source of all of our problems? Wouldn’t it have been easier for the police to just blame those who wanted to protest? Surely they are the problem.
So – I’m renting an idea these days and this is it – hate has its place – but only for a moment. Hate is only productive when it motivates us to clarify what we are actually FOR – what a solution could actually look like. And let me clarify – I do not consider more hate to be a solution. Hate that blesses another act of hate doesn’t feel productive to me. It feels oppressive. But it is the work that moves us beyond hate to experimentation and ultimately progress that changes the tide. Just like the picnic put on by the Wichita police…and the decision to attend that picnic by those who were going to march – both acts are heroic in my eyes. It feels like they decided to declare what they were for – more than what they were against.
So what are you for?