Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Pastor
11024 S. Bell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643
Reflection March 31, 2019
"Why So Much Hatred?" - by Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth
A recent article in The Week on the rise of white supremacist terrorism (March 29, 2019 edition) has me wondering why we find hatred so easy to embrace. Is there some terrible flaw in our genes that allows openings to all types of vile and demonic thoughts? Why do we find it so necessary to denigrate “those people” instead of reveling in our common humanity?
I certainly don’t possess the intellectual capacity nor the wide-angle vision necessary to answer this perpetual and deeply troubling aspect of human thinking and human behavior. There have been and will continue to be numerous attempts to propose possible reasons and solutions for our propensity to hatred.
Even in our Christian world-wide family, we find it profoundly easy to hate “them” in Jesus’ name. I know of no religion that doesn’t have this flaw in its DNA. And often the hatred spills over into sectarian violence. We, humans, have a devilish and dangerous addiction to violence.
We need to blame someone when our lives don’t work out as we thought they should. Life is infinitely disappointing. If one isn’t capable of dealing with and carrying life’s inherent disappointments, then hatred of “the other” will seemingly assuage the inevitable pain of living.
If my life is not perfect or at least as close to perfect as the plethora of advertisements suggest, then life must be unfair. And if life is unfair to me, someone besides myself must be to blame. If I’m not successful on all levels, such as financially or in my relationships, then someone else is the cause of my failure.
If, for instance, all women don’t find me attractive, it must be because they are blind or just misguided. It’s THEIR fault, not the fact that I may be inherently unattractive!
If I’m unsuccessful financially (which is THE criterion for success in our wealth-driven, greed-obsessed society) then someone or some group is keeping me from my just rewards.
We wrongly assume everyone can be successful in our country. It shouldn’t matter where one is born or the financial resources of one’s parents. But it DOES matter! Too many in our nation are dealt very-weak hands in life. The playing field is a very long way from being level!
When it comes to skin-color, the unfortunate basis for most racism, those of us who are white (whatever that means, actually I consider myself “pinkish”) think we’re better than those who have darker skin color. We’re better than THEM!
There’s an unfortunate understanding that since homo sapiens arose in Africa, we began with dark skin and “evolved” lighter skin as we moved out of Africa (because of the need for vitamin D produced in the skin by sunlight). Thus there’s an erroneous belief that those with lighter skin are more “evolved” or “advanced” than those with darker skin. This is NOT the case!
In DNA testing, it’s been discovered that homo sapiens, modern-day humans, have been a mix of light and dark skin from the very beginning. Ancient humans, including hominids (pre-human ancestors), were a mix of light and dark-skinned populations. The work of present-day geneticists also show that the ancient ancestors of present-day humans may well have had pale skin. Skin color, in other words, is a puzzle that is only now beginning to be understood.
Those of us who’ve taken DNA tests have found, hopefully to our joy, that we’re often a mix of many ancestral homes. Africa remains the most genetically diverse continent and has influenced all humanity. Middle Eastern ancestors are common to many of us. European ancestors often show up in those of us with darker skin.
In other words, there’s no scientific foundation for any conclusions based on the color of one’s skin. This is the conclusion of an article in the October, 2017 edition of The Atlantic (“The Ancient Origins of Both Light and Dark Skin.”) Discussing recent DNA studies, the article concludes “The study (of DNA) really discredit’s the idea of a biological construct of race.”
I don’t know how to cure people of hatred. I’ve seen too much of it in my life. After all, I was in Marquette Park that terrible day, August 5, 1966 when my neighbors (I was living near the park in those days) came out to throw rocks and hurls obscene taunts at Dr. King and those who marched with him. As a young college student, I was sickened by such a display of unmitigated-unhinged hostility.
I wish, with my many years of life, my many years of education, my many years of pastoral work, my many years of helping carry the burdens of those entrusted to my care, I could break open the conundrum of human hatred so its dangerous hold on us might be exposed and explored. But I cannot. I don’t have the needed key.
I do know, though, that hatred often finds a home in the human heart and the human soul when we don’t know what to do with the pain of living in a broken world. Suffering is our lot as humans. As Christians, we follow a brutalized, horribly-executed Savior. Don’t we see the terrible irony when we also turn to hatred and the violence hatred spawns? Who can we hate in Jesus’ name? It’s an important question!