There's been a lot of talk about hate this week. Yet not one voice amid all the din has hit on the truth of anything that is going on in our world right now, and this...is tragic. It condemns us to keep reliving this narrative again and again and again.
The truth is not that there is hate in our world; that's a myth. It's a false narrative. It's why we can't seem to get a handle on the whole thing - we're chasing a story that doesn't exist. The truth is not that there are men and women among us who hate this or that group, this or that population, this or that people. The truth is not that, as a member of this or that group, population, or people, someone out there hates you.
The truth is that there is hate in our hearts, and it's the deep-seated hatred that we have for...ourselves.
If you listen, if you listen beyond the media and the hype and the fear and the easy way out that tells us we have a surface problem, if you listen, you cannot help but hear the sounds of tormented hearts crying out. They're not the hearts of the victims; they're the hearts of the perpetrators.
They're the hearts of men and women who have deep, aching questions about themselves, about their worlds, about their purposes, about their gods. They're the hearts of men and women that have not yet been reconciled to themselves. They're the hearts of men and women who look into the world because they cannot bear to look into a mirror and still they see an image of themselves reflected that they cannot tolerate. And their anger and their hatred burns against that image.
We talk about hate as if it has something to do with us, as if we can do some kind of transformative PR work and make people stop hating us for being who we are. But the truth is that nobody has ever hated us for being who we are; they have only ever hated us for not being who they want us to be. That's on them, not us. We can never combat hate by convincing someone else to accept us for who we are; we have to speak into their wounded hearts and convince them to embrace themselves. We have to give them tender eyes for their own souls. We have to walk with them to the mirror so that they can see things for what they really are - themselves and ourselves.
This is true no matter what the surface story seems to be. It is true of crimes with racial overtones. It is true of crimes with sexual overtones. It is true of crimes with religious overtones. It is true that no matter what the overtone, the undertone is always insecurity.
Weird, right? In a day and a time when we're obsessed with security, when we're talking about how to keep ourselves safe all the time, when we're debating the measures we take to protect ourselves, that the root of all the trouble we face in the world would be insecurity. But it is. And nobody's talking about how we salve ourselves against the wounds of our own insecurities. Nobody's talking about how we make ourselves safe...with our own hearts.
It's hard. It's messy. And it requires a fundamental shift of our perspective. Because the sad truth is that at moments like this, not only do we fail to consider the heart of the perpetrator; we convince ourselves that he simply doesn't have one at all. When we all went to sleep on Sunday night, we were told that there were 50 bodies in a nightclub. When we woke up on Monday morning, there were only 49. No, it wasn't a miracle or a failure of math. We decided that the 50th life, the 50th body, wasn't really a body at all. We decided he wasn't worth mourning. Because he pulled the trigger. The 50th body wasn't a victim.
But he was. He was a victim of the terrible thing that does this to men in the first place. If we ever want to get a handle on hate, if we ever want to understand why things like this keep happening, he's the one we have to understand.
He's the one we have to question. He's the one who holds the answers. We can't keep asking why "they" hate "us." We have to start asking why men hate themselves. What is so broken in our world that men can't bear to look into their own eyes? What is so broken in our hearts that we cannot handle our own stories? What is so scared, angry, frustrated, wounded in the depths of our own hearts that our eyes can't see through the haze?
These are not easy questions, but they are the ones we must be asking. They are not easy roads, but they are the ones we must travel. They're not popular or politically correct, but when, honestly, was the last time politics got anything correct? It's hard because we want to turn our own eyes away. We can't bear to look at things like this. And if we must, it's easier to look at the innocent lives lost, at the faces and the stories of the unsuspecting.
But the suspect was unsuspecting once, too. The guilty was once innocent. The perpetrator, long before he pulled that trigger, was a victim. Of what? That's the question. Therein, in the depths of the hearts of men, lies the answer to our "problem" of hate.