Although we’re in what has been dubbed the Sixth Great Extinction Event and species are disappearing all over the planet, one thing that sure isn’t endangered is the abundance of hate flooding the United States these days.
Given that we are one of the wealthiest nations with a very high standard of living compared to most of the world’s population, it would appear our citizens are becoming more polarized due to well-funded and widespread efforts primarily to benefit politicians whose only response to those with whom they disagree is hate and violence. The old saying that “hate corrodes the vessel that holds it” is a daunting prediction for our future.
The use of hate and fear of “the others” by authoritarian rulers to both control and incite their citizens has a long and ugly history. Certainly tribalism has been around as long as humans have roamed the earth and the reasons for breaking humanity into opposing factions are legion. Fear, religion, and race have been the historic old standbys, spawning such atrocities as the Crusades, the Inquisition, and more recently, Hitler’s attempted extermination of Jews.
Control of resources hasn’t been a slouch, either — just ask the American Indians who were driven from their ancestral homelands and decimated by the intentional distribution of smallpox-infested blankets served with a generous helping of bullets. But of course none of that is much different than the treatment indigenous people received all over the world from the brutal colonial powers.
Unfortunately, if enemies in the form of “the other” don’t exist they are often artificially created to keep the populace fearful and willing to accept conditions they might otherwise find senseless and reject. A good example is the Cold War, which ended more than 30 years ago. But although a valuable ally in World War II, we were told the Soviets became an enemy because their governmental system was communism — and we were supposed to fear they would take over the world.
Yet, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, for a brief second in time there was hope a “peace dividend” would ensue and the vast sums spent on the military would be used for more beneficial and necessary purposes. But the joke was on us as the military-industrial complex — so presciently warned of by President Dwight Eisenhower — pulled the strings on its political puppets to keep the fears alive and enormous amounts of money flowing to weapons of mass destruction.
Our latest enemy, so we are told, is China. Apparently we’re supposed to hate and fear them because they have a communist government — which justifies spending hundreds of billions annually for our defense. But as everyone knows, virtually everything on the shelves these days is “Made in China.” Having embraced capitalism very successfully, China’s communism doesn’t really seem much of a threat.
Unfortunately the tragic practice of creating enemies where none exist is no longer limited to offshore targets. Now, due primarily to twisted political ideologues, we’re told to hate and fear each other, too — and the reasons are just as specious.
The actual effect political parties have on most peoples’ everyday lives is nonexistent. Yet politicians are telling us we should hate our fellow citizens because of their political affiliation, nationality, race, religion, or sexual preference. Utter nonsense.
Holding politicians accountable for their actions is vitally necessary, as is robust debate on public policy. But intentionally fomenting hatred among our fellow citizens for each other and foreign nations — especially when far greater challenges loom — bodes nothing but ill for all of us.