I like to study people.
More than like, I feel compelled to study people.
I study my friends, strangers, basically everyone, and especially on social media.
All this time in observation, contemplation, and searching for connections and patterns have led me to believe a few interesting thing.
1.) Some personalities need someone to hate.
For my super conservative, my-way-or-the-highway father-in-law, it's the "damned liberals." Not one of them could have an opinion worth listening to, not one of them could have a point, and when I mention that I would consider myself more a liberal than a conservative on many issues he pretends not to hear me.
He has to hate someone, and since the "damned liberals" disagree with him, it's a whole lot easier to find every negative thing they've said and use it to fuel that hatred.
If he couldn't hate them any longer, I don't believe he would know what to do with that energy or how to identify himself. Part of his identity is in his hatred.
2.) That blind hate dehumanizes people.
All Christians are stuck up, holier-than-thou hypocrites!
All feminists are bra-burning, man-hating lesbians!
All liberals are destroying the values of this country!
All republicans are so concerned with their own money they don't see anything else!
Ever heard any of the above statements? I've heard them, seen them and had them thrown in my face. I've discovered that in life, we are bound to be the victim of blind hate because of how we would identify ourselves.
But when we create one image for an entire group of human beings, we're ultimately doing a disservice to ourselves.
3.) You can't change everyone's mind.
And you certainly can't do it by screaming, shouting or shaming.
You can't do it by shouting bible verses if they do not believe the word.
You can't do it by tearing down the bible if they do believe the word.
You can't do it with violence.
You can't do it with fear tactics.
And you can't do it refusing to listen to anything they have to stay.
Here's what else I've noticed though: we can be responsible for our own actions.
We can choose to respond to others with love.
We can refrain from seeing people as a group worthy of hate.
We can listen.
And we can accept that someone differs from us, but still love them.
I am a Christian, but I hope not to ever put anyone down or see myself as any better than anyone else.
I am a liberal politically, but I will not tell you that you're wrong if you disagree with me.
I live more conservatively because I believe in God and His word, but that does not mean I have any right to judge you for however you choose to live.
I am a democrat, an idealist, an advocate, a feminist, a mother, a wife, a believer, and a sinner.
I believe that we all use some of these words to identify ourselves, but no individual word defines us.
So why does one description make anyone worthy of hate?