The Unashamed Misfit

Most people want to fit in. I suppose it’s even more accurate to say most people need to fit in. All things being equal I would prefer to “fit in.” But all things are seldom equal and I don’t need to fit in so badly that I’ll sacrifice my core values and principles to do it. 


Years ago the State of Minnesota had a US Senator by the name of Paul Wellstone. Senator Wellstone died tragically in a plane crash years ago while campaigning for re-election. The Senator and I held different views on most topics but there was one thing we had in common…he had no need to fit in either. 


Several times in his Senate career he found himself on the losing side of 99-1 votes. He was the lone Senator who didn’t go along to get along. While I might not have agreed with his principles there was never any doubt that he had principles and that he was ready to fight for them. I admired that about him. 


Paul Wellstone was an unashamed misfit. The fact that he was a principled unashamed misfit made him downright toxic to a lot of people. That was their loss.


One principle that Senator Wellstone held dear was that you could disagree with someone without disrespecting them. He made his case respectfully based on facts and listened to other people’s opinion too, even when their facts disagreed with his. He kept an open mind and was willing to admit when he was wrong. But his principles were rock solid and when he believed he was right he wouldn’t give an inch. 


I never voted for the guy but based on what passes for leadership these days I would say we need more Paul Wellstone types. 


We need them in sports, we need them in business, we need them in politics and we most certainly need them in government. 


Here’s the thing…I would much rather follow a highly principled leader who I disagreed with than follow an unprincipled scallawag of a leader who held the same beliefs as me. I’d have a whole lot a “leading up” to do with the principled leader but even when a decision didn’t go my way I’d know the decision was honorable. 


People the world over need to give people who look different, who think different and who act different a chance. A chance to make their case without being called radically left or radically right. 


People around the world must remember a time when someone being wrong didn’t make them a bad person. People need to recall the days when hating someone because their views or beliefs were different than yours was unacceptable. 


Hate is unacceptable. Well, maybe not for green vegetables but certainly hate for another human being. No matter how “bad” you think that man or that woman may be, hate is wrong. Hate is not the answer. Hate fixes nothing. Hate only destroys the chance for understanding.


Do not wait for “somebody” to do something about the hate and vitriol being spread by supposed journalists and regular people on social media. Each of us can doing something to stop the acceptance of hate by not hating. 


You don’t have to cave on your principles, you don’t have to agree with people whose views are far from yours. You just have to accept the fact that different people were shaped differently by their life experiences and understand how foolish it is to hate them for it. 


Can you imagine a world with no hate? I hope so because anyone who can imagine it can help make it happen…just by not hating. 

And before you say you’ll stop hating when they stop hating remember what my mom used to say to me… “if all the other kids were jumping off a bridge would you jump off the bridge too?”

Eliminating Hate

To say that the United States of America is a divided nation would be an understatement. There used to be the left, the right and a whole bunch of people in the middle.

Today it seems as if there is the far left, the far right and few people in the middle. People are passionate about what they believe which is somewhat surprising considering that the majority of Americans don’t seem to be able to state clearly exactly what their beliefs are.

And then there’s the media. The President says immigrant crime is up in Sweden and CNN has a headline that says “Trump Continues Attack on Sweden.” I don’t have a clue whether or not crime is up in Sweden but it didn’t seem like much of an “attack.” 

If The President were to shoot someone I would not be a bit surprised if FOX reported that someone got in the way of one of his bullets. No matter what he says or does it seems most of the FOX people think he can do no wrong. They have mostly lost their objectivity. 

I don’t think it’s actually an overstatement to say that the majority, perhaps the vast majority, of the media truly hates Donald Trump. As with anyone the hate has clouded their judgment. They have mostly lost their objectivity.

What the media shares these days is their hate for the “other side.” They don’t report news, they  ALL, yes all, report their view of the news. I actually heard with my own ears one of the news commentators on a major network say that it was the job of the media to tell people what to think. The same commentator was upset because she said the President was trying to take that job away from the media and take it for himself.

Really? REALLY? The media as a group is behaving as a destructive force right now, both the right and the left leaning media. Watch an hour of FOX and an hour of almost any other news outlet and you would swear you were living in two completely different universes. This much is certain, at least some, if not all, the media are delivering the “news” in such a fashion that if it is not outright lying it’s about a close as you can get. 

Hate makes otherwise good people do some crazy things. 

There have been violent, destructive demonstrations with vulgar hateful signs. The amazing thing is that the people with the hateful signs and language are protesting what they claim is a hateful President. So…it’s okay to hate if you think the person you hate is hateful? 

It seems as if the majority of Americans now hate someone or something. 

Even more amazing will be how badly I’m going to be ripped on Twitter for writing this post. People on both sides will complain that the other side “makes” them hate. They will say that yes they may hate but it’s not their fault. 

Sorry folks but no one but you can make you hate. No one but you can get you to stop hating. Until everyone, EVERYONE, accepts responsibility for their own emotions the hate will not only continue, it will grow.

If it’s wrong to hate, and it is, then it’s always wrong to hate. Hating a hater is still hate. 

Hate accomplishes nothing. The hater almost always loses more than the hated. 

Americans need to rediscover civil discourse. We need to find a middle ground, we need to understand that just because someone has what we think is a bad idea it doesn’t mean they are a bad person. 

Is any of that even possible? Will anyone join me in declaring all hate wrong? Will you stop hating? 

Can we all just give someone else’s opinions a little breathing room? Can we reject a person’s ideas without rejecting the person? Don’t say you will if “they” will, do it whether they will or not…it’s called leading. 

Hate Isn’t Helpful

So…. I sent out a tweet a few days ago about hate. It said basically that you don’t gain anything by hating and that the “hater” loses more than the “hated.” That’s it, it didn’t say anything about who hated, why anyone would hate, it mentioned no name, no race, no sexual preference, no political affiliations, nothing.

Immediately after sending it out, and I mean immediately, I started getting replies about how stupid liberal democrats are and how republicans make it hard not to hate. In short, I received a bunch of hate-filled replies agreeing that hate was terrible but blaming either democrats or republicans for making it impossible not to hate.

I’m going to guess here but I’m betting it was Republicans blaming Democrats and Democrats blaming Republicans.

Other people blamed gays for hate, or Muslims, or TV news, or cops, or blacks, or whites, it went on and on and on. Thankfully, there were some people who simply agreed with me. (There is hope!)

Really people! Really!

Has it come to that? Have we come to the point that the only way to deal with someone who has  views different from our own is to hate them?

Exhibit A (exhibit A is so strong that I won’t even present an exhibit B) is President Obama’s new Twitter account. He owned the record for gaining 1,000,000 followers faster than anyone else, at least until Caitlyn came along. That’s an official statistic, here’s a less official stat… his Twitter account also instantly became filled with more hate than any Twitter account in the history of Twitter.   

People actually tweeted stuff that immediately earned them a visit from the Secret Service. These people just couldn’t control their hate for the President long enough to restrain themselves from publicly displaying their bigotry. 

Now just so we are clear, I proudly voted AGAINST President Obama twice. Admittedly I pressed the pencil against the paper ballot a little harder the second time. I almost completely disagree with his policies and beliefs. I think he is taking the country in the wrong direction. 

But hating him for it is just backwards thinking. It’s also counterproductive. It accomplishes nothing. It does no more good to hate him than it does to hate anyone. As a person he seems like a guy who would be a lot of fun to hang out with. I’d bet he enjoys debating and justifying his positions. He just seems like a nice guy, a nice guy who is wrong (yes, I’ve considered the possibility that it could be me who is wrong but I got over that pretty quickly 😉) about a bunch of stuff but a nice guy just the same. I don’t like his positions and thinking but I kinda like him as a person.

There used to be a time when people, even good friends, could disagree and still remain friendly. The world was better then, the world made more sense. People could agree to disagree and go have a beer.

Today we seem to hate for the sake of hating, there is no middle ground, we either agree with someone or we hate them. We hate because of race, financial status, religious beliefs, nationality, the sports teams we cheer for, you name it, we can hate because of it. Folks, when a guy can nearly be beaten to death for cheering for the “wrong” team at a baseball game while dozens of other “fans” watch, we have a problem.

It’s just plain wrong. No one in the world gains a thing from hating another person. We are losing our humanity because of hate. We now seem to be blaming the people that we hate for causing us to hate. We accept no responsibility for hating, instead we place the blame on the hated. 

Now I know that not everyone hates and I don’t mean to say they do but these days more people than not seem to hate. That is not a good thing. That is most definitely not a good thing.

The great President Abraham Lincoln once said “I don’t like that man. I most get to know him better.”

Can you do what President Lincoln suggested? Can you postpone hatred long enough to give a person different from yourself a chance to prove their life, and viewpoint, matters too? Do you think it’s possible that we could ever return to the days when we “allowed” people who think differently than we do to exist without being hated. I realize hate has and always will exist but it’s really getting out of control. It affects every aspect of life. 

Hate is not sustainable, it will either destroy the hated or more likely, it will destroy the hater, but hate always eventually destroys. 

Hate is a choice, you can choose not to let it in your life or you can choose to embrace it and accept the consequences. Whichever you choose understand this fact; your responsible for your own hate, not the person you chose to hate. 

Maybe understanding that will make it just a bit harder to hate… maybe.