Last week someone was hateful towards me. I’m not talking about road rage or a quick rude comment, I mean intentionally hateful in their behavior and dialogue towards me. I consider myself to have a pretty high pain tolerance both emotionally and physically. And I believe when someone is hateful they are trying to get their point across, or get their way in a manner that causes intentional hurt to someone else. Hate may also be defined as an outlet of strong opinion of dislike for some. I was not disturbed much by this person’s spewing of hatred towards me, but others did notice and made mention of it after the situation. I personally believe that what hateful people accomplish by acting out or unleashing hatred is simply showing how hateful they truly are. Whatever their motive or point, their hatred seems to show more about who they are rather than what they are trying to prove.
I’m not making a single point about a hateful act towards me alone. Unfortunately, hatred is all around us in our world, and one cannot escape it if they open their eyes and ears. This past weekend alone I saw plenty of hateful acts happening and being discussed in the news. There were ample to pick from: riots in St. Louis, a bombing in London, American students attacked with acid in Marseille, France, and even attendees and participants at the Emmy Awards were spewing hatred from start to finish of the show.
Brene Brown’s latest book, “Braving the Wilderness,” was published last week and as a fan, of course I read it over the weekend. To my surprise, there in the middle of the book is a chapter called “People are hard to hate close up. Move in.” I read the chapter in anticipation of answers. I read the chapter hoping for enlightenment and understanding. And I read the chapter hoping that perhaps it would have a take away I could utilize in my own experiences with hatred. I was not disappointed because the entire chapter focused on the very issue of hatred. And then on page 75, exactly something I could keep a focus on: “There is a line. It is etched in dignity.” This is so simple and yet profound. Maintain dignity. Not just maintain your idea of dignity, because everyone’s ideas of dignity differ, especially when you label it yours. Just maintain dignity. Brown goes on to write: “We must never tolerate dehumanization… we diminish our own humanity in the process.”
Many of my columns in this paper are simply me talking to you the reader. And most are just sharing of information that I find interesting. This particular column is also about sharing, but more importantly, an instrument for awareness. If you’ve read this column this far, then I ask you to consider Brown’s idea and ask yourself if you participate in dehumanization or cross the line of dignity. Do others see you do it? Do your children, who probably look to you as a role model, see you acting in kindness or hate? I even tried to allow that person who was hateful to me last week pretexts. After giving them every excuse for their behavior that I could think of, I still ended up wondering about how often they spew their hatred at others. I’m sure I was not an isolated incident, I’m not worthy of someone’s complete wrath.
I choose to stay on this side of the line of dignity and I hope this side outnumbers the other side always. We are better than this, I truly believe we are. I have to believe we are.
Leslie Scott is the Director for the Prosper Community Library.