I had a very brief encounter with my family yesterday that resulted in some interesting thoughts this morning.  To lay the groundwork for this writing I will admit to nearing the end of my 75th year – what that means is, I grew up in those “simpler times” you hear about. ^_^

In the course of a conversation with my son, I used the following words: “I hate those things.”  He seemed surprised and asked me why and I explained – my explanation being really my “opinion”, truth be told.  And not the real subject of this writing.  Once  back in my little house I realized what I had said was ‘inappropriate” given they are trying to teach the kids to NOT use that word – ‘hate’ – and Rachel was right there and part of the conversation initially.  oops!  I even considered texting an apology, but didn’t.  Instead I am going to write about it here.

You see, as I was growing up, we often used that word.  It was like the superlative of dislike (a word we never used!) It was easier than saying “I really, really don’t like _____”.  Like – I hate vanilla ice cream.  or, I hate rainy days.  It was almost never used as “I hate you” – maybe only when we were really little and really upset with mom??? ^_^ (Note – by me, only once safely hidden behind my closed door and not loud enough for her to hear!!) Or when we were really upset and said “I just wanted to kill him for saying that.” The point I’m making is that hate was a relatively harmless word that simply described (mostly) how we felt about ‘things’.  Like some people love vanilla ice cream. ^_^  Oh, and in that example – ‘kill’ was just a way to say we were really upset in some way – frustrated, embarrassed or angry (but not in a hateful way).

So what happened??  How did we get to this current emotional state around that four letter word – hate??  I think it’s the direct result of what we call “the media”.  Some clever story writer came up with a term to attract attention to his/her story about the latest ‘killing’ – called it a ‘hate crime’.  And we were off to the races!  Everyone jumped onto that band wagon – and here we are – hating each other because we are different.  We have taken what is a ‘normal’ (for humans) fear of the unknown and turned it into “I hate you because you are different and I don’t understand you”.  Its a very short step from hate to violence, unfortunately.

I understand the ‘fear’ because for me, personally, to ‘not know/not understand’ is very threatening.  Somehow means I’m wrong or stupid and thus ‘worthless’.  Won’t go down that path here – some of you will get it.  We all know that fear triggers the ‘fight or flight’ stuff – so at least with fear, you still have some degree of choice!  Not so with hate, I think.  ?  I think hate adds real anger to the fear – a volatile combination ??  And even adds in a measure of ‘justification’ for whatever violent actions you might take to get rid of ‘that hateful thing out there’.

So the first scary thought is – in what other ways have we been covertly (and probably unintentionally) led down a path to destruction by our ‘media’? What other ‘catch phrases’ are being used that we don’t even notice?  Is it now called “spin”?  While I do NOT watch or listen to “the news”, I do go online & have email and facebook in my life.  But even if I didn’t – it feels like it has all become part of the very air we breathe.

The good news is, I think we have begun to wake up to the fact that we have been given a steady diet of ‘bad’ news because the media has believed that’s the only way to attract ‘followers/readers/listeners’.  I have begun to hear and read “Seems like we only hear about the bad news lately, so here’s a story about something good.”

I wonder what would happen if we began to view ‘different’ as an opportunity??  An opportunity to learn and grow?!  I just saw in my mind that almond milk commercial – so human!  “No, I won’t taste it because I don’t know what it tastes like”.  We can laugh at it because it rings so true! ^_^  Yep, we just might discover we like that ‘different’ person – and that they really aren’t so different after all!!