Michael asked me why anyone would do such things as done on September 11. I told him it was because the people didn't like the United States and what it stood for. Somewhere along the lines of their lives, that dislike became hatred and hatred became murder and mayhem.
Sometimes, I wonder about hatred. Where does it all begin? When you look at children, you don't typically see hatred. In fact, you often see the exact opposite . . . children seem amazingly capable of ignoring differences and simply being content in the present. They don't tend to live in the past or in the future. Now is all that matters.
Children change because of what they are taught. Basically, they are taught to hate. Whether or not this education is deliberate or subtle is probably as old as the question "nature vs nurture."
At some point in our lives, we become responsible for our own decisions. We are not forced to continue to choose that which we were taught and throughout most of North America, people are free to establish their own identities.
Here's some of what I've seen so far since my return to the United States. People are pretty intolerant of anything that strays from the status quo and people are quick to label someone who thinks differently than they do as a "hater."
When I read news on the internet, I often scroll through a few pages of comments. Those comments are riddled with hate.
I participate in a few forums. Whenever there is a dissenting opinion, there are always many to jump on that opinion and call it hate.
I, myself, was labeled a hater because I disagreed with someone posting that eating certain foods would prevent breast cancer. (If that were true, then I wouldn't have breast cancer!) Someone else followed up with "Yeah, I wonder what percentage of haters get cancer."
We've become comfortable with hating or with accusing others of hate. Our expressions of such tend to be protected behind a computer screen, but at some point, they come out in other forms. Because I live in an extremely diverse area with many immigrants, I have to wonder how many of my children's Muslim classmates today will be afraid of what their classmates think of them. Will they feel a blanket of hate over them because of others who call themselves by the same name? Will they be victims of sideways glances? Bullying?
As adults, how do we physically express hate? Road rage? Slamming doors? Rudeness? Obscene phone calls? Foul language? Hijacking airplanes and running them into buildings?
I know, I know, there's no comparison in these actions. However, my point is, hatred doesn't start big. It starts small and builds. Unless we challenge ourselves to live each day in love, we're no different than those who flew those planes or those who orchestrated the plan to do so.
One of Mother Teresa's lesser known quotes sums up my thoughts: "Intense love does not measure, it just gives."
The only way to counteract hate is to love so unconditionally that hate doesn't stand a chance. This does not mean that I would not defend myself in a dangerous situation, nor does it mean that I will willingly put myself in danger's way.
We honor and remember those who were taken from their families and friends eleven years ago. We love those families who mourn. The challenge is, can we love those who took them? Can we love their families . . . especially the children . . . who may be just as much a victim as those who died so tragically? They didn't choose where to be born any more than we did. Unlike North Americans, many people around the world are NOT free to change their life circumstances.
"If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both." (1 John 4:20, The Message)
A challenge for today: Find someone to whom you can show love . . . someone who normally wouldn't be on your radar. Find some way to be loving in a great way, even if the action is small. It's all about attitude. Mother Teresa also said, "We cannot all do great things; but we can all do small things with great love."