"People are hard to hate close up. Move in." ~ Brené Brown
Hate is a pretty powerful weapon of mass destruction. Emphasis on mass. Generally speaking, people tend to throw hate around to speak in sweeping generalities rather than specifics. It’s the root of bigotry and negative stereotypes - broad brush strokes that gather a group of individuals based on their favourite sports team, their political party, the colour of their skin, or their country of origin. But, what happens when you stop standing at a distance and speaking in broad brush strokes, and instead, lean in and learn about the individual. More often than not, it becomes a lot more difficult to hate.
In a recent Psychology Today article Allison Abrams states that “no one is born racist. There is no gene that determines one’s predisposition to hate or bigotry. These are learned attitudes and behaviors.”
If hate can be learned, then this truth holds for love as well. So, how can we unlearn hate and learn love and acceptance?
In her book Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown emphasizes the importance of allowing yourself to be vulnerable and get close to people. This stands in radical opposition to racism and hatred, which is often rooted in fear, but it works. By talking to people who hold different ideals, celebrate a different culture, look like you or unlike you, you’ll find commonalities that might not otherwise be apparent. And once you learn about a person, find a shared interest or, more simply, move in closer to them, it becomes a lot harder to hate them.
What the world needs now, more than ever, is more love and less hate. There’s no better day to start than today - so get out there and get to know someone new. Challenge yourself to be open-minded and vulnerable. And see if you can’t just spread a little more acceptance and love.