I had made up my mind not to watch or listen to any of Tuesday’s State of the Union address. My disgust with this administration has grown to the point where the mere sound of the president’s voice fills me with such rage that I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed to be capable of so much resentment. And I’m even more ashamed that my response to intolerance is intolerance. Which is why, in the end, I tuned in.
Confucius said, “It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.”
I believe that’s true. Hating is easy. It’s easy to decide that people who don’t see the world the way you do are cowardly, unpatriotic, ignorant, and immoral. Especially when those people imply the very same thing about people like you, and they do it on live national television, moments after vowing to “act in a spirit of good will and respect for one another.”
It’s easy feel righteously indignant. It’s easy to be dismissive and angry.
But I also believe what Coretta Scott King said, that hate injures the hater more than it injures the hated. Buddha said it too, that holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else, because ultimately, you are the only one who gets burned.
I do believe that love is the only solution to hate, and that tolerance is the only correct response to intolerance. Dropping that coal is the only way for us to save ourselves. It’s right thing to do, and that’s exactly why it’s so damn difficult.
I wish I had the fortitude to be like Booker T. Washington, and permit no president to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.
But as of right now, I still don’t have it.