Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Sunday Thoughts: Reject Hate

with 5 comments

Lately, I’ve been very worried about how the United States — and the world around us — has given in to both tribalism and despair.

I understand despair better than I wish, but I don’t understand tribalism.

Why? Well, it seems to be a conduit for hatred. And we need to reject hate, in all its forms, as best we can.

We are all human. It can be hard to remember that, with some of the awful things that people do. But we are all human, and we are neither the least of our actions nor the best of our actions.

Instead, we are the sum total of our actions.

Where I live, we’ve seen an uptick in senseless violence in the past several years. Last week, some guy with a long gun ran out into the middle of a busy highway, and carjacked not one, but two people. He wrecked both cars, and was killed by the police before he could do any more harm.

I don’t know what caused this man to run out into the middle of the street with a long gun, much less carjack two different people. But I do know that he gave them nothing but pain. Their cars are wrecked. Their finances will take a hit in trying to get new ones (and in this area, the public transport is so spotty, you absolutely need to have a car), their mental health will take a hit in that they were hostages, and their emotional health will take a hit because they were helpless to affect their own lives in those moments.

I don’t know if this man hated everyone, or hated himself, or hated his situation. But he spread nothing but vitriol in the last hours of his life on this Earth.

I also don’t know what the answer is to people like this, except for trying to be a better person myself. As I said above, I know we’re not either our lowest moments (what my good friend calls our “blooper reel”), and we’re also not our highest moments (what she calls our “glamour shots”). But I can try, the best I can, to help others, to understand them, or at least make that effort in trying to understand.

That matters, even when I think it doesn’t. (Does this make sense? If it doesn’t, blame the lateness of the hour.)

I don’t know about you, but I often wonder if I am making a difference. After all, the Earth is huge. The amount of people living on Earth is staggering. And it’s only possible to get to know a few, select people most of the time. That means there are so many others we don’t know, that we can’t ever know, and yet we have to act as if we know them all.

Or at least as if we want to know them all.

Anyway, I know that any given human being (myself included) can only reach so many people, whether it’s emotionally, or mentally, or (even fewer people) physically. If we’re fortunate, it’s also possible affect them in a spiritual sense, too. (Hopefully for good, and not for ill. But I digress.)

And every little bit does help. Every time you can help someone, even if it’s just smiling at them and actually seeing them, or if you can listen for a while without judgment (very tough to do, if you do it right, but necessary), or if you can run an errand for someone who’s shut-in, or if you can be good to a stray animal and find that animal a home…every little bit helps.

When I’m depressed, or worse, despondent, I think that everything I’ve done has no meaning. I am honest about this, which I guess is unusual in and of itself.

I know it does have meaning, though. Even if I don’t exactly know what that meaning is, I know it does.

So, I will continue to do my best to reject hate in all its forms. I will continue to do my best to help others, as best I can. And I will continue to live my life on my own terms, and hope I can affect others’ lives for the better in the process.

May we all choose to reject hate. (Please?)

5 Responses

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  1. Hi Barb.
    We do need more posts such as this one, particularly in this cyber age when any disaffected person can get cult status by gathering like minded folk around them.
    From my reading of histories both political and military (the two tend to criss-cross) tribalism in a constant in the Human journey. Sometimes the recent times it has been of the gentle sort with a lot of joshing between two regions, other times it can take on an uglier tone, a danger when it morphs into Nationalism. Then we have racism, politics and religion and the three getting mixed together,. For example looking back over Europe’s history (The USA is still in its youth by these standards) tribalism has been toxic and rather than the perceived folk lore that it was empires which caused WWI at the root were the pressures from grass root ‘nationalistic’ groups bubbling upwards.
    You are quite right to carry on with your intentions not to hate and try to bring compassion and tolerance. There is a Chinese proverb which translated into English reads as “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness”. Thus your one post read by others can touch them and hopefully encourage them and so on.
    In these times that might not seem to be much, but doing something is better than:
    A). Doing nothing.
    B). Reacting in kind to those who offend you- there in lies a path to conflict- and another set of problems.
    The world is and always has been a mix of wisdom, stupidity, compassion and cruelty.
    Hold to Compassion, Tolerance and Respect, and do the best you can, as you can, when you can.
    Best wishes


    September 8, 2021 at 3:12 am

    • Thanks, Roger.

      I like your other two choices there. I definitely am not going to refuse to do anything (aka “do nothing”), as you know. 😉 And the second choice of “reacting in kind to those who offend you” seems to be the mantra of way too many people these days. (Whatever happened to “do unto others as they would do unto you,” hm? I’m not Christian, but I admire that philosophy. Though I have to admit that Chesterton didn’t think Christianity had ever been properly tried, and I think I may be in that camp as well.)

      Barb Caffrey

      September 9, 2021 at 1:08 am

  2. Although by belief I am a Christian, there is a lot of falling short in my day to day life, being a person who often slips into the combative retaliatory mood when confronted by Intolerance or Ignorance. Not a good stance actually as there tends to be a latent toxicity left over. Constant internal battle going on between Reason and Response.
    I would agree with Chesterton; Christianity has never been properly tried, no more than many a belief system being it spiritual, political or social.


    September 9, 2021 at 2:16 am

    • I agree with you. I am intolerant of intolerance and ignorance, too. But I try hard to be tolerant of everything else. (I don’t always succeed, granted.)

      Barb Caffrey

      September 10, 2021 at 6:21 pm

      • ‘(I don’t always succeed, granted.)’ None of us do Barb, but as long as we realise that and keep on trying by gently thinking ‘Well. That could have gone better,’ there’s hope.


        September 11, 2021 at 2:11 am

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