Last Sunday morning, Milwaukee, Wisconsin experienced a repeat performance of the tragic Aurora shooting from three weeks ago. The gunman, Wade Page, shot six people and wounded four others in a Sikh temple before eventually taking his life.
Seems like the hate quotient in our country has increased exponentially over the last year or two.
So how do we put an end to it?
First of all, I think we need to stop talking about it.
Is it just me, or does it seem that our culture is throwing the word “hate” around like an errant Tim Tebow pass? Seems like our society is fixated on hate. Consider the recent additions to the English lexicon:
- Hate rock
- Hate crime
- Hate groups
- Hate monger
- Hate speech
You’ve heard of FaceBook, but you may be surprised to know that there’s a HateBook where people can list their many hates.
Back in the day, the word “hate” was reserved for incorrigibles like Adolf Hitler or more recently Fred Phelps. Wade Page or James Holmes (the Aurora shooter) would surely fit into that category. But today, the word dominates the rhetoric in national news.
Once You Start You Can’t Stop
A few months ago I stopped at a nearby hardware store to pick up some household repair items. I asked a clerk for advice on a certain purchase, and this is what he said,
Actually, I think you’d be better off going with the ¾ bolt, actually. Then, actually, you’ll need to buy this nut. Actually, actually, you’ll find that it holds things together much better. Actually.
During our 2 minute conversation, he employed the word “actually” 14 times (I counted!). When I returned home, I shared my experience with my wife.
“So,” she asked after I finished telling my story, “when do you plan on beginning your project?”
“Actually, I thought I’d start tomorrow morning because, actually, I was planning on answering some emails tonight. Actually.”
I gulped because I knew I had been infected.
The next couple of days, the dreaded word kept appearing in my vocabulary. At times I knew it was coming but I still couldn’t stop it. The guy at the hardware store had given me the virus.
Throwing the word “hate” around works the same way. The more we talk about it, the more it appears in our vocabulary. And the more it appears in our vocabulary, the more common it becomes. Nowadays, a disagreement or debate can be considered
“hate speech.” Ironically, accusing people of hate can be in itself an act of hate.
While Wade Page performed with his white power heavy metal group, the lyrics in his songs assuredly expressed the hate that he already felt. But they also energized his burning hatred inside.
I realize this isn’t the magic pill—but we need to change the way we talk.
Our words are performative. If I stand in front of a mirror every day telling myself, “Mike, I hate you,” I’ll begin to believe it.
But if we change the way we talk to each other, we just might turn back the tide on hate.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt. Colossians 4:6 (NIV)
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’s doing his best to recover from his “Actually” virus.
One note: The Daily Bible Conversation blog is shuttering its doors at the end of August…at least for now. The blog has run its course, so Michael, Eugene, and Brendan will direct their energies in other areas. Beginning September 7, Michael will begin a new blog entitled “God Meets Culture” at michaeljklassen.com.