Do You Have the Courage Not to Hate?

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences. STOP HATE.”

This was painted on the back window of a car I walked by in a Silicon Valley parking lot. I was so touched, I stopped to take a picture.

As I walked on, I thought about it. A lot.

Here’s what struck me: The message reflects a beautiful truth. It’s idealistic.

At the same time, it’s sadly naive.

The truth of the statement is obvious: If we could only recognize, accept, and celebrate our differences, the world would be a far better place.

If we could only…

This driver’s message is probably seen by hundreds of people on an average commute. Those like me who agree with it are glad to be reminded of it—perhaps even inspired by it—but we’re the choir the message is preaching to. The people who really need this message—well, even when it’s staring at them in heavy traffic, if they see it, likelihood is, they’ll reject it.

All these thoughts led me to a revised message for the back window of that car.

Why? Because those who hate don’t want to recognize and accept differences in people. That is the point. It’s the very last thing they want to do. And they most thoroughly don’t want to celebrate and respect differences.

Whether we like it or not, that is what they hate.

They hate people who are different because they don’t really see those people. What they see is strangeness. And strangeness is strange. It’s unfamiliar; it takes some outside their comfort zone and straight into the land of fear. Such people hide that fear from themselves and others by finding fault with what they’re afraid of.

It’s a short jump from the realm of fault-finding to the dungeon of hate—except haters don’t see it as a dungeon; they see it as a fortress. To them, it’s a sign of super-individualism, of exclusivity. That apparent exclusivity can give a false sense of power.

Fear is not a good look, but power and exclusivity seem to look good on a person.

True courage is manifested in taking a look at someone or something that appears strange or different and seeking to understand it. That takes guts. It takes a willingness to be uncomfortable.

All these thoughts led me to a revised message for the back window of that car. One that might make an impact:

Do you have the courage not to hate?

Michael Scandling
Fine-art photographer, writer, counselor-at-large, chef, dog lover, nature lover. Not particularly reverent.