Sometimes I ask the same question. How do we respond to people who seem to be possessed by an irrational prejudice...especially when "these people" are our people--members of our family?
Moreover, where does this "reckless hate" come from? I once read somewhere that there is homosexuality in every species, but Homo sapiens is the only animal that scourges its homosexual members. But why? I suppose homophobia is passed down from generation to generation like most forms of bigotry. But where does it really originate? Some might point to religion, but where did religious leaders get their homophobia? An unease with anal sex? Ultimately, the answer is probably ignorance. But how to educate when the lesson appears to contradict the dogma accepted (and used) by the haters?
I am reminded by Sting's "Englishman in New York" lyrics: "It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile / Be yourself no matter what they say".
Here are some insights I found on the subject of hatred, which I present as answers to some of my troubling questions of late. Indeed, some of these quotes are sadly applicable.
Q: How is it that so many good Christian people--ordinarily full of love and goodwill--can suddenly fill with hate and venom (e.g., when it comes to homosexuals)?
A: "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love
one another." ~Jonathan Swift
Q: So is religion to blame for this intolerance?
A: "Ultimately, America's answer to intolerance is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired." ~Robert F. Kennedy
Q: Why do some of my family members stick to their prejudices so aggressively?
A: "I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain." ~James Baldwin
Q: Then is there no hope that these hard feelings will soften?
A: "It is to the credit of human nature that...it loves more readily than it hates. Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love..." ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (an apt book to be quoted on this blog)
Q: What, then, must we do as people who sometimes find ourselves on the receiving end of hatred?
A: "We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies." ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
And one of personal favorites, an anonymous quote:
"It is better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for someone you are not."