“This isn’t who we are! We can do better than this!” cries the speaker decrying another hate crime, another attack on a house of worship, another brutal beating of an innocent minority.
But aren’t we? Can we? How do we really think about our fellow human beings? I mean, let’s let go of lip service about “regardless of race, color or creed,” and everything else.
Where are we really at?
According to the latest Public Religion Research Institute poll, where we’re at is not a good place at all.
More of us than ever before feel it’s OK to refuse to service or sell to Jews, African Americans and Muslims.
More of us than ever before declare that the tenets of our religions permit us to hate and suspect certain kinds of people. Those “certain kinds of people” include Muslims, Jews and African Americans. It’s a profile, a chilling profile, of who we say we are circa 2019.
People in their right minds do not do harmful things—not to themselves, not to others. People who hate are not sane, rational people—at least not while they’re in hate mode.
This April, the Anti-Defamation League released its survey. Its findings: “The U.S. Jewish community experienced near-historic levels of anti-Semitism in 2018, including a doubling of anti-Semitic assaults and the single deadliest attack against the Jewish community in American history. ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic incidents recorded a total of 1,879 attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions across the country in 2018, the third-highest year on record since ADL started tracking such data in the 1970s.”
I, for one, don’t believe it. Don’t get me wrong. I believe the statistics, the surveys and the opinions. I believe the anger and the hostility. What I don’t believe is that this is who we really are.
Just as a child hitting another child is scolded by his mother, “That’s not like you! You’re better than that!” so this current rash of hate can’t be like us. I refuse to believe it. And the reason I refuse to believe it is because I’ve had experience believing in the best of us, not the worst.
As a Scientology minister, I’ve used Mr. Hubbard’s ethics technology, a practical study on how to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps and get one’s life together and oneself on a more fruitful path. When one isn’t surviving and is a danger to oneself and others, one can be said to be not who one really is. I’ve had people, who, reeling from their own stupid decisions in life, do a face slap and exclaim, “This isn’t me! That’s just not like me! I don’t do that!” And they’re right. It’s not like them.
The great majority of us can take that deep breath, look inside, and realize that we are loving, that we are capable of great things, and that we can simply get along with each other.
People in their right minds do not do harmful things—not to themselves, not to others. People who hate are not sane, rational people—at least not while they’re in hate mode. Test it on yourself: think of the last time you were really mad at someone—so mad that you actually wished for something bad to happen to that person. Can you honestly say that at that moment you were at your best? That you were performing at your peak? That this was truly who you are? It’s alright—we’ve all been in that place, and, thankfully, most of us can make a quick exit.
Part of the technology of ethics involves persuading the individual to find out who he really is. Not what others tell him he is, not who he darkly believes he is after doing something senseless or stupid; but simply who he is. Really and truly. The person invariably discovers for himself what he knew all along—that he is a deep well of boundless potential for good; talented, loving, resourceful, intelligent, helpful, and all the things that make people great.
Not everyone can do this. Not everyone wants to discover who he or she really is. They’re having too much fun wrecking things for the rest of us by being someone they’re not.
But the great majority of us can take that deep breath, look inside, and realize that we are loving, that we are capable of great things, and that we can simply get along with each other.
What you say matters. What you do matters. How you treat others matters. People are watching. Don’t think they aren’t. They’re looking for something to agree with. Let it be love, not hate.
And pass it on.