I Refuse to Hate

Hating Would Have Been Easier

“I refuse to hate,” this statement comes from Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times. The full quote is, “They killed 22 of my relatives, but I refuse to hate.” This includes his three daughters. Let’s let that sink in for a moment. Dr. Abuelaish added, “If you find someone afflicted with hatred, don’t blame. Ask what made him afflicted with hatred. We need to focus on preventing the causes – racism, discrimination, superiority, injustice, killing…”

In our part of the world, the causes would include isolation, social prejudice, the toxicity of dark circles on social media and the internet, as well as the ever-present emphasis on materialism and performance rather than humanity, connection, and love. In any case, I stand behind Dr. Abuelaish and refuse to hate. Check out this short video to get the full magnitude of his message.

14 Dead and 25 Wounded in Prague

When I heard of the school shooting at Prague’s Philosophical Faculty last night, my first thought about the shooter was, “He didn’t know how to love.” Because if he did, he would never do such a thing. It’s as simple as that. Love and empathy are crucial for humanity to survive. It’s not some lofty concept; it’s how we are wired biologically – we are social creatures, and to thrive, we need a cohesive tribe.

But my immediate second thought was that it didn’t mean he wasn’t loved. It’s entirely possible he came from a normal, loving family with no particular toxicities. His family and friends may be completely shocked now – they would have never guessed. And the first witness accounts suggest it. “He was an unimpressive person,” someone said. Yes, someone insignificant, unassuming, who began hating the world that failed to discover his potential, cherish him as a human being, connect, love. Now, he made sure he would become significant, even at the cost of his own life.

7 Basic Needs

In Value Anatomy, we list Significance among the 7 basic human needs, along with Certainty, Growth, Connection, Respect, Contribution, and Variety (as in things not being monotonous). Something tells me that, other than Significance, some of his other needs were not met either. For most of us, they are not. We think of needs in terms of Maslow’s pyramid: air, water, food, shelter, etc. But those are just the general survival conditions. We need much more to be human and humane, to be connected to others in a healthy way and functional in society, not to mention personally fulfilled.

I don’t blame this kid’s family for not giving him “enough hugs when he was little.” We have such a massive lack of connection across our society that it would be ridiculous to blame one family. Also, the longer I work in personal development, the more I return to the simple equation – hurt people hurt people. For anyone to break a family pattern is a heroic effort. I take people through a valley of tears to shed old wounds and become more connected. I celebrate any such hero because most prefer to remain ‘comfortably’ (albeit toxically) closed. It’s easier.

Yes, It’s Personal

To me, the Philosophical Faculty is not an abstract, far-away building. Over the years, I’ve known both students and teachers. My neighbor used to teach there. I know writers and translators from literary circles who work there now. One luckily got stuck in the elevator. We have clients in two departments. I emailed the secretaries from the grant department on the floor where the shooting took place. And in the orbit of my awareness is also the case of murders in Klanovice Forest. Participants from last week’s course regularly take walks and run there. Yes, right there, where possibly the same guy shot a man and a 2-month-old baby last week. It could have been my student. For us, such events are shocking. We’re not used to violence. Yet.

So far, it looks like everyone I know made it out safely, not counting the trauma that may haunt them for the rest of their lives. If they get into therapy, they can expect a long journey through that valley of tears. They will now have to become heroes overcoming PTSD. It could have been me if our project required me to drop something off in person. Instead, I’m scanning social media to see who else…

Us versus Them

Like everyone, I’m waiting for the list of victims to see whether anyone I know, even vaguely, is on it. Like many, I’m now dividing the world into my people and the others. The people I know versus the people I somehow ‘don’t care about.’ How come I suddenly don’t care about them? Simple – tribalism. It lurks the minute our safety or resources are in danger.

This tribalism is normal. It’s how we protect ourselves from the overwhelm of pain but also what keeps us from reaching out and helping those we don’t know. If we fail to do that, we are failing ourselves. We’re numbing our empathy. And numbing one’s empathy is the same spiral as the kid who picked up the gun. On a smaller scale but in the same direction.

Every time we choose fear and hatred over love and compassion, we enter that toxic spiral. Izzeldin Abuelaish knows this. Viktor Frankl knew this. The folks at Life After Hate realized it and now help former violent racists find peace and become more human. It’s a choice. It’s Christmas time, and I think this message is more important than ever. Refuse to hate. Refuse to hate even if it’s personal. And call out on those who, in any form, spread and perpetuate toxicity.

I wish you peaceful holidays full of gratitude for what we do have – safety, love, and connection.

I Refuse to Hate
Tagged on: