AWAKENING YOUR INNER HERO: Hate is Poison | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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A column to help locals live a kinder and more courageous life



Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness... ~Martin Luther King Jr.

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Once upon a time, way, way, way back before Cheerios and McDonalds, there was no hate in the world. ...

That is not a true statement, at least I'm darn sure it's not true. Why am I so sure? Here's my theory, and remember, it's only my theory.

Whether you believe in the Biblical story of creation and what follows, or the science of evolution and the academic study of recorded history, either way, human beings have brutalized one another since the beginning. Killing, capturing, torturing, enslaving and eradicating have been the norm for thousands of years. That is our history from as far back as we have been able to record it. Conquering, warring and dominating seem to be in our genetic makeup. All of the recorded evidence points clearly in this direction.

It is a sobering, if not a depressing observation.

And it hasn't ended. But it has, in many ways across our magical planet, been significantly reduced. Right makes right has been the guiding principle in our world, as we simultaneously do our best to democratize and humanize the planet. There is less slavery in the world today, but slavery still exists. There is so much more integration, just in my 76-year lifetime, although segregation has not yet departed. There are more equal rights, but again, total equality has not been reached. There is significant evidence, in the bigger picture, that we have been heading in this less hateful and more loving direction.

Our legal system and moral teachings remind us that might does not make right and every day we inch closer to a more humane global reality. It is an ongoing battle and bless all of our courageous battlers. Thank you! Today, nearly everyone knows that might does not truly make right. We all know these higher wisdoms: Love your neighbor as yourself. All people are created equal. Liberty and justice for all. Let freedom ring. United we stand!

People frequently counter my observation that we are evolving toward a more humane future and often they retort, "Yeah, but..." and then go on to describe the many ugly, graphic injustices that still exist in our evolving world. I agree, but you also must concede there has been movement toward a more just world. And I also have to admit there are some of us humans who have no interest in equality and loving their neighbor as themselves. Not yet, least not at the conscious level.

I have a question.

What are your racial, religious or sexual associations? White? Latino? Black? Jewish? Muslim? Hindu? Native American? Asian? Straight? Female? Gay? There are at least a thousand more options. And each one of us has been involved, at some level, in this ancient war of dominance, subordination, prejudice and hatred. Every populated continent lives in the shadow of its conquerors, dominators and victims. The residual hatred and fear linger for generations.

Hating people because of their color is wrong.
And it doesn't matter which color does the hating.
It's just plain wrong.
~Muhammad Ali

Hatred and resentment are easily accessible sources of false power.

I repeat.

Hate and resentment are easily accessible sources of false power.

Hate and resentment are, in fact, easily accessible addictions.

Just like any addiction, they offer a quick hit and are intoxicating.

Predictably, they cause more damage than the relief they seductively provide.

Quick relief and ultimately more damage to ourselves and others.

That's the definition of addiction.

Hatred and resentment paradoxically enslave not only the hated but even more so, the hater.

Hatred and liberty cannot coexist.

Freedom requires that we release our hatred.

There are two primary categories in this ancient model: the hater and the hated.

And a person can easily fit into both of these.

And there are some "observers" who somehow have escaped this personally and societally toxic phenomenon.

The above sentence is also false!

We are ALL in this together.

There are NO untouched observers.

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
~James Baldwin

We are animals first, and thus our brains are preset to attend to negative stimuli in order to keep us safe.

Even more importantly, we are human beings and we were uniquely given the freedom, power and responsibility to choose peace, whenever that is possible.

Let's all keep doing our most important job.

Hate is Poison by BURT GERSHATER

Burt Gershater is a counselor, leadership trainer, speaker and writer. He can be reached at

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