In the last four years, a question has been asked: how can people support the Republican Party and its’ elected leaders with its’ embrace of white supremacy, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, hypocrisy, and corruption?
One answer to this question that has been said is this: people who support conservative Republican party ideology and its’ elected officials hate the same people they do. Many supporters say that’s not true, that they don’t hate anyone.
But to me, and a lot of other people, it sure feels like hate. And I will get personal here to explain where that thought came from.
All my life I’ve been bullied, ostracized, and alienated into a silent exile for many things, such as making mistakes even though I’m human and will do that. Or for doing things in a way that someone else doesn’t agree with even if it’s a way that’s not causing any harm to anyone. I’ve felt hated for thinking and feeling a certain way that someone doesn’t agree with even though my way of thinking and feeling is not causing harm to anyone. And yes, I’ve felt hated when I was accused of wanting to be seen as a martyr for caring for other people while trying to pursue my own life goals on limited time.
I’ve had plenty of people tell me they don’t hate me even as they heap bullying abuse on me. It feels like hate because being treated badly when you haven’t done something wrong hurts like fucking hell. For me, it built up a huge feeling inside of me that made me feel worthless as a person, that I was never going to be good enough for anyone, and that no one would ever truly care about me and let me all the way into their lives. Feeling like you’re hated simply for being the person you are is a soul-deep level of pain you will never completely get over.
And when you do find the courage to say you’re hurting, that what’s being said to you is hurting you… it becomes even more painful when your pain is thrown back in your face by your tormentors saying they didn’t mean to hurt you. It becomes more painful when they say you’re wrong in feeling the way you do, that their intention was not to hurt you but to help you in some way. It becomes even more painful when they deny what they said altogether, or that you didn’t hear it in the right way. We call this gaslighting now and yes, gaslighting feels like hate.
Another common response I hear when people are accused of being hateful is that they respond as strongly as they do because they feel something is going to be taken from them. They feel like if someone different than them gets something they wanted or felt was theirs to begin with, or that a person who is different will come after them, they react in a defensive way to a threat that isn’t real.
If you see someone looks different than you, practices a religion and culture that’s different from yours, loves differently than you do and wants to be treated with respect and dignity as a threat I will say this: that’s not true. Just because someone is different from you doesn’t mean they’re going to hurt you, or take something from you because you don’t always get what you want. And also, the world and every single person in it doesn’t owe you a damn thing just because you exist and you see yourself as special. In reality, this is an incredibly selfish reaction that comes from either total fucking stupidity or a feeling of total superiority.
When people feel like those in power hate them simply because of the way they look, the culture and religion they practice, the way they love, and when those in power are hell-bent and determined to take away rights from others simply because of their differences, when those in power are hell-bent and determined to put every single person in a place of their determination… that sure as hell feels like hatred to me. If you feel someone doesn’t have the right to live in freedom and peace, to make their own decisions and determine their own path in life simply because they’re different than you… that’s sure as hell feels like hatred to me.
And worst of all, when compassion and empathy for those who are suffering is met with bitterness and scorn, when compassion and empathy are seen as weakness… that sure as hell feels like hatred to me. When fear is used as a weapon to get people not to care about others, to feel that death and lifelong suffering is acceptable… maybe it’s not hatred though it sure as hell feels like it to me.
I feel the last four years in American life has brought scorn on those who suffer, and it’s brought to the surface a belief that suffering is justified. And yes, that feels like hatred to me. Because as someone who like millions of others has had their compassion and empathy scorned, who has been made to feel worthless simply for being who they are and have done nothing wrong, it feels like enduring hatred.
I hope I’m wrong here, that maybe a lot of people are just fucked-up and misguided and don’t really have it in them to hate. But no matter what happens, I will always choose love, compassion, and empathy.