One thing I’m realizing more and more about society today is that we are subtly being indoctrinated to hate and also support hatred. We’re told that it’s good to hate certain groups or people and if you don’t you’re shunned by society. Whenever we push a like button or comment on a post, we may be unknowingly growing hatred within ourselves and society. This hatred I’m talking about is towards people and groups of people, rather than the things they stand for.
Here’s an excerpt from C.S Lewis’ book Mere Christianity to further this point.
The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. (C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity)
At first, this did not make any sense to me. Why wouldn’t I be relieved that an atrocity that I heard on the news was not true? What kind of sick person wouldn’t feel the first feeling Lewis describes. In my confusion, I read this passage again and realized he was specifically talking about if our enemies were the ones that did those atrocities. This made me even more confused. First of all, I don’t think I have any enemies that I’m aware of, so I couldn’t really place a real person in this scenario. Secondly, even if I imagine myself having an enemy, I would still not find “sheer pleasure of thinking [my] enemies as bad as possible”.
This confusion frustrated me so I decided to go to the one place that I always go to when I feel confused; Facebook. While listlessly scrolling through the same pictures and videos that I saw 10 minutes ago in search for answers, I noticed a common theme of people posting and commenting about the misdeeds or misfortunes of specific people or groups in the form of Memes, articles, videos, and Tweets. Specifically, these posts target people like Trump, Hilary, Trump/Hilary supporters, Obama, Conservatives, Liberals, Muslims, the police, and ethnic minorities to name a few. Ironically, looking at these articles allowed me to break through the confusions I had with the C.S Lewis’ excerpt and opened my eyes to the hatred that we are constantly fed.
So I have a test for yall to hopefully see what I see. Open up Facebook (or just click the open facebook tab on the top of your browser) and look at the posts on it. Go to one of these posts about a group that you strongly dislike or don’t agree with and read it. It may be an article about something racist that Trump said, or a reiteration of the Hilary scandal. Maybe it’s another police-related shooting or some attack on the conservative or liberal party. Or think about a sports team or player that have taken beef by the media like Kobe, Tom Brady, Curry ,Lakers, or Warriors.
Now imagine that this article is fake or not telling the whole truth (as if it isn’t already). Does it disappoint you that Trump didn’t really spew garbage racist statements out of the cesspool he calls his mouth, or that Hilary’s email scandal was made up? Or that Tom Brady didn’t deflate the footballs. Or do we say “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that.” My guess is that many of us express the prior sentiment and from the way I talk about Trump, you may correctly judge that I feel the same way.
This is what C.S Lewis describes as a byproduct of hating the person or peoples, rather than their evil words or deeds. He clarifies that “by all means, we should not reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery”. But our attitude should be different towards people. For Christians, we are taught to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and by neighbors he also means enemies. Essentially this is one of the two greatest commandments. However, this isn’t the attitude that we typically portray on social media and also social settings.
We instead love to revel in the idea that our enemies are evil because it justifies our desire to hate them. It feels good to hate Trump. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels a sense of satisfaction and pleasure when I hear him give another racist tirade about immigrants or Muslims. This pleasure isn’t from the content of what he said or did, but it’s “for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible”.
So if you agree with what C.S Lewis is saying and my analysis of it, then this is something we must consider and examine in our own lives. We should not be promoting an attitude of hatred, even subtle attitudes of hatred. Rather we are commanded to love not in a subtle way, but in a deep and selfless way.