Haters Gonna Hate

Roatan, Honduras Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Roatan, Honduras
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Last week, as I’m sure everyone knows, the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality.  I saw a lot of celebration on my news feed. There was also an article shared about a pastor who stated that he would set himself on fire if gay marriage was legalized, and many of the comments I saw were things like, “Has he done it yet?” “Fire! Fire!” and so on.

I feel bad for that pastor.  How much hatred does he have to have inside him for him to threaten to light himself on fire because of something that has nothing to do with him?  How much must he hate himself to make those statements? We’re a culture that’s easily angered.  We’re intolerant of his hatred and intolerance, and our knee-jerk reaction to such stupid statements (because yes, I think it’s stupid to light yourself on fire because other people now have more rights than they did a month ago) is to bring gasoline to his fire, to jump on the hatred bandwagon.

I’m not hitching a ride.

I get why it feels good to respond to his hatred and anger in kind, but it doesn’t do any of us any good.  From the time I was little, my parents told me “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” and no matter how much we pretty it up, that’s what the sentiment boils down to.  Righteous anger might feel good, but that doesn’t make it right.

If I tried to talk to that pastor and met his hatred with more hatred, I pretty much guarantee he wouldn’t hear anything I had to say. If, however, I met his hatred with compassion, perhaps he would hear me.  Maybe not.  Maybe he would hear some part of what I had to say.  I can’t make others listen, but I’ve found that if I treat people with respect, it almost always has better results than treating them with disrespect.

There are a lot of people I don’t agree with.  There are opinions that offend me.  But if people respond to intolerance and offense with hatred, it just perpetuates more hatred.

It might be difficult, but I encourage you to remember that when someone is awful, your hatred won’t make them better, nicer, or more tolerant.  After all, nothing you can say will be worse than what they live with.  People who spread hatred have to live with themselves.  Treat them with kindness, because they’ve already sentenced themselves to life in a prison of hate.

10 comments on “Haters Gonna Hate

  1. Doree,
    I couldn’t agree with you more! Thank you for writing thi. You’ve encapsulated my thoughts and feelings on the matter, beautifully and much more concisely than I could.

    Lillian, fellow UBCer.

  2. Reblogged this on Human In Recovery and commented:
    I couldn’t have said it any better!

  3. James says:

    I agree that this Pastor’s response to the recent SCOTUS decision regarding marriage equality is way over the top, but it’s difficult for me to automatically assign the emotion “hate” to his statements.

    If he’s like a lot of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists I’ve known, he probably feels more desperation and frustration, especially if he actually believes that God’s redemption of the United States is contingent upon reducing/removing what many Christians see as sexual sin, that is, same-sex sex.

    I don’t know how the LGBTQ community came to be the special poster child for the worst sins under Heaven. Why, from this Pastor’s point of view, would legalizing same-sex marriage be any worse than legally allowing straight couples to co-habitate (without being married) and have children together? Fifty years ago, that was a big social “no-no,” and now, nobody bats an eye, including most Christians.

    The thing about tolerance is that it really isn’t tolerance unless the door swings both ways. We may want Pastors like this one to practice tolerance, which in today’s language tends to mean “total acceptance,” but we don’t get to ask that of him unless we are willing to try to understand his point of view as well.

    Why would this Pastor and many people like him, experience hopeless and dismay for the moral future of America as a nation because same-sex couples are, for the sake of the legal entity of marriage, treated identically to opposite-sex couples? What does the Bible say to him that it doesn’t say to others?

    I have to believe this particular Pastor was “blowing smoke,” so to speak, and really didn’t light himself on fire. It was just some dramatic ploy meant to impress his constituants while making the rest of us think all Christians are looney tunes, perpetuating yet another cultural stereotype.

    But assuming that not all religious people who oppose marriage equality do so because they have randomly and irrationally chosen to hate all LGBTQ people, before reflexively assigning the “hate” label to them, maybe we should try to understand them first. If they aren’t actually hating, what are they feeling and thinking and why?

    That’s practicing tolerance too, and tolerance isn’t just something that social and political conservatives are obligated to.

    • doreeweller says:

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate thoughtful discussion.

      I agree with a lot of what you said, especially about how the tolerance door swings both ways, and that it’s not just about one group of people tolerating another; it’s about all of us.

      After I read your comment, I sat back and thought about why I assigned the “hate” label to him. You’re right that I can’t know what his true emotions are without sitting down and having a conversation with him.

      When I assess whether or not I should tolerate others, I ask myself if what they advocate or do would be harmful to the health, safety, or welfare of themselves or others. If it could be harmful, then I can’t tolerate it. If it would not be harmful, then I say “live and let live.” When I talk about health and safety, I’m talking about physical health and safety (except when it comes to kids… different set of standards used, but that’s a different discussion).

      I actually wasn’t pointing this article out to say anything against this pastor; it was to point out how many people’s knee-jerk reactions toward him were intolerant. I support his right to his point of view; I’m disturbed by his threat to light himself on fire.

      Either, as you say, he didn’t mean it, and it was a dramatic ploy. Or he did mean it and still intends to at some point. If he intends to, I question his mental stability and pity him. If he doesn’t mean to, threats to harm oneself when they don’t get their way is a tactic often used by abusers in violent relationships. And children do that too. Threats to harm oneself have no place in intelligent discourse, and cause me to not take his views seriously.

      Though I’m pro-marriage equality, I’ve read several opinion articles that are pro-traditional marriage, and I respect the writers’ opinions and right to their opinions, even if I disagree with what they say. And I wouldn’t assign the word “hate” to everyone who’s anti-marriage equality. But, I’ll have to give some more thought about how I define when someone is being hateful and when they aren’t.

      Thank you for giving me (and my readers) some more things to think about.

      I hope you stop by again. I’d love to have more discussions with you.

      • James says:

        Thanks Doree. The thing is, there are many different perspectives on marriage equality depending on one’s particular religious orientation. I’m sure you clicked the link to my blog in order to figure out who I am before responding (it’s what I would do), and you may have even noticed that a few days ago, I wrote on a similar topic, though I had no awareness of the Pastor you mention in your blog post (and I won’t post a direct link in order to avoid spamming you).

        There are always going to be fringe movements and fringe people who will go for the shock value to get their message across, and I seriously doubt the vast majority of people who call themselves Christian would actually incinerate themselves because the nation they live in passed, from their point of view, an unpopular law.

        If that was a sustainable attitude in the Church, then Christians in church-unfriendly nations such as China would be going off like roman candles. I don’t mean to be indelicate, but my guess regarding the Pastor in question, is that he’s just drawing the greatest amount of negative attention to himself to emphasize the zeal of his emotions or otherwise impress (or shock) his audience.

        I appreciate your kind and measured response to my previous comment. While people disagree with each other all of the time, I believe it’s still possible not to personalize conflict. Unfortunately, social media has a tendency to turn reasonable disagreement into, you should pardon the expression, flame wars.

      • doreeweller says:

        Flame wars is an appropriate (and punny) way to describe it, and yes, I clicked on the link to your blog. I intend to sit down and read some of your posts this coming weekend when they have my full attention, because I do appreciate you visiting me and reading what I have to say.

        I have a lot of Christian friends who are anti-gay marriage, but who are wonderful people and live their Christian views. I respect that and them and the fact that we disagree. I also have a lot of very liberal friends whose eyes twitch at the mere mention of religion.

        People are people. I prefer to find areas of common ground rather than areas of dissension. Though I have to admit that I love a spirited discussion with people I don’t agree with! How else would I ever learn anything? If we all had the exact same opinions, life would be dreadfully boring.

      • James says:

        If you like spirited debates, the religious biosphere should be your cup of tea. It’s the reason I have to moderate each and every comment someone makes on my blog. Just because a person is religious doesn’t always mean they’re polite or courteous. 😉

  4. […] Haters Gonna Hate– My thoughts on people meeting negativity with negativity. […]

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