A few hours before posting this article the first official temporary memorial to the victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center hate crime, two columns of blue and white light were turned on. I live approximately 25 to 30 miles from Manhattan, and it is slightly overcast, but from my backyard I could just make out the columns of light, very faint against the night sky. It is a very moving sight.
A Gay Opinion 3/11/02
by R. A. Melos
Like much of America, I spent the evening of March 10th watching the CBS documentary 9/11. At first I wasn't going to watch it, simply because I felt there has been no letting up on 9/11 aftermath since 9/11, but I began to change my mind. I'll admit part of it was curiosity, which drove me to watch the film. I, like many others, wanted to see what was going on inside the lobby of One World Trade Center, moments before the crippled structure collapsed, but I came away from the film with a different outlook on the events of 9/11, and all the events caused by hate in our world.
I once was one of those people who felt we didn't constantly need to be reminded of the cruelty man is capable of committing, but after watching this film I now feel it is very important to remember this event. Not only is it important to remember this event, but all the events of cruelty which man has perpetrated upon man.
We must remember the events of 9/11, and Hiroshima, and Pearl Harbor, and the Holocaust, and victims such as Matthew Shepard and the many homosexuals who've been murder for simply being themselves, and all those driven to suicide because of the cruelty of society, because all of these events and murders and misguided surrenders are indirectly connected to one another. The connection is hate.
We, as a society, can try to differentiate between acts of terrorism, and blatant murder, but to me everything I witnessed on 9/11, and the results of October 12th 1998 (the day Matthew Shepard died), and the many news reports of suicides, rapes and murders are equal in their cause. These results were caused by hate. No one can justify hate on the level of 9/11, even if they do invoke the name of God, nor can the events of December 7th 1941 be justified as simply an act of war.
America's retaliation to the recent events, and the retaliation on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ending World War II, were not simple acts of war, easily written off as necessity. These acts were revenge driven, which is also an emotion of hate, and being such they are just as bad as the acts to which they were a retaliation.
We must, as a race, remember all these acts of hate, and accept our roles in this communal condoning of such acts. I am a pacifist, and do not believe in an eye for an eye, even when the universe itself calls for such a sacrifice. Granted, much of humanity needed these acts of retribution to take place, but I feel humanity, for the most part, has missed the greater lesson.
Yes, we must remember all of these forms of hate crimes, but not to celebrate the victims or the lives they led. These acts must be remembered for the horrendous crimes they are, so we, as a race, may prevent similar events from reoccurring. I fear the human race hasn't learned from the recent events, and most-likely, for many lifetimes to come, generation upon generation will be revisited by just such world shattering events until we stop celebrating the hate and learn to see it for what it is, and learn to say no to the hate.
Granted, we must defend ourselves, as individuals, from such hate crimes, including acts of war, rape, gay bashing, and other equally insidious cruelties, but in defending ourselves, we must remember who we are as individuals. Do we want our legacy to the future generations to be one of revenge, of teaching an eye for an eye mentality, never fully reaching our potential to overcome adversity through peaceful measures?
Do we want future generations to look back upon us, as we look back upon past generations, and consider our acts barbaric? That is what will no doubt happen, one hundred years from now, when a generation of our progeny reflects back on the history of our planet. They will see the one thing man was meant to do, the one thing man fought so hard not to learn, the lesson most resisted, was the message of love and tolerance for everyone, and the respect for diversity.
I know how idealistic I sound, and perhaps I am an idealist. Part of me wishes the world would learn to recognize hate, in all its forms, and control it. I say control it, because we will never be fully capable of eradicating hate. Hate is a strong emotion, which drives many to succeed at their endeavors. However, it is still a success born out of anger and hate, and only serves to create negative energy being feed back to the universe.
Just as many successes come out of the energy of love, and great beauty and truth can be learned from both.
Look, if you will, at a society reluctant to pass laws which will protect one segment of society from cruelty, simply because of the fear that segment of society creates by their very existence. Try living with the knowledge someone considers you a threat to all they believe in, simply because God create you as you are, and then you will understand why hate on any level, and in any way, is wrong.
We must remember 9/11, not for the heroism and bravery of those who died, or of those who survived, but for the act of wanton hate it was and the level of destruction it caused, and the amount of pain it inflicted upon the entire world. Yes, hate begat more hate, in the form of a war. This is what makes me ask, haven't we, as a race, learned anything from history? Haven't we, as a race, seen enough wars to know retaliating is only one step in correcting the wrongs we inflict upon ourselves?
We have to take the next step, and make hate wrong. I don't know any other way of making hate wrong, than to create love and acceptance for all. I know this is a hard thing to do, for in my own heart I feel anger and hate toward those who would commit crimes I deem to be hate crimes. Yes, I hate people who bash gays, and who blow up innocent people in the name of God. I hate those who use the name of God to defend their right to hate.
Yet, I know, my own hate for these individuals is equally wrong. I am not saying to love the sinner and hate the sin, for that obviously has proven, at least to me, to be a failed method of combating the ignorance of hate. We, as a race, must teach the future generations to embrace and respect all. We must stop sending the messages and energies of intolerance in to the world, and teach the lessons of mutual respect.
I'm very much afraid our society isn't geared toward such heady levels of intellect. I'm not saying we aren't ready for it, only that we are resisting it. It is much easier to ignore the past, and bury our heads in the sands of ignorance then to hold our heads high in the sunlight of knowledge.
Am I ashamed for my own feelings of anger and hate? Yes. I'm ashamed of my petty jealousies, and my own intolerance of fellow human beings, but by being aware I am capable of harboring such feelings, I am also, one would hope, aware of my potential to learn to control my hate and anger and channel it into positive energy flows.
I have gone through much personal anger and hate toward the world, and society, during the past few years, and it consumed much of me. I am still learning to overcome those personal feelings, yet I know I must in order to achieve all I wish to achieve in this lifetime.
If we could easily overcome such suffering, pain and anger, we would not learn from our actions and reactions to situations. If we had no regrets, something I, in the past, always strived to avoid, we would have no change to look forward to in the future.
My regrets are personal, but my hopes are very much for a society where tolerance is replaced by unconditional acceptance of all races, all religions, all sexual orientations. Do I believe our society is capable of such acts of love? I have my doubts.
Do I have faith in our society as a whole, to overcome the obstacles of hate and anger? I still have my doubts. Do I hope individuals will learn to overcome their prejudices which create such atrocities as the events I've mentioned in this article? Most definitely.
Do I think I'll witness these miracles in my lifetime? Certainly not. Do I wish I could see these miracles in this lifetime? Yes.
Perhaps my wish could be granted, if everyone pitched in, and made an effort to overcome the obstacles which created hate and anger in our society, since we know the main obstacle which creates anger, hate and mistrust, is ignorance. Ignorance of our fellow man, is the greatest obstacle in what should be our real war as a race; a war on hate.
If we are compelled to fight wars, then why not fight a war which would put an end to all wars, not a war of weapons but a war of emotions. Let us all, as a race, join in and fight to stamp out ignorance, thus destroying the environment in which hate thrives. Let us all fight to educate ourselves by getting to know all we can about our fellow man. Learn about all the world religions before trying to wipe any of them from the face of the Earth, and learn about or genetically predisposed sexual orientations before trying to force changes upon those who differ in their chromosomal x and y combinations.
If we, as a race, want to go beyond our self-destructive tendencies, we must learn everything there is to know about ourselves, and we can't do that if we insist on destroying each other. We need each other to survive. So instead of reality based television showing us how ruthless man can be toward one another, why not show us how we can learn to overcome our own ruthlessness, our own ignorance and self-centeredness, and teach us how to live lives of acceptance and respect for each other?
Is this really too much to ask of my fellow man? I don't think so. If we are capable of planning and building weapons of mass destruction, think of what we would be capable of, as a world society, if we redirected that destructive energy into positive life affirming efforts?
Am I alone in this desire for the betterment of man? At times I'm certain the answer is yes, but I keep hoping to hear a resounding no.
I have no advice, no real practical method of achieving this goal, other than to take the advice of my generation as learned from the great medium of television, and JUST DO IT!
Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.
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3.14.02 @ 1:08p
So here's the big question: Can you have love if you don't have hate? Is it a ying and yang thing?
And is it OK to feel hate as a natural, initial reaction?
I don't know if we actually can rid the world of hate. I think it's part of not only humans, but every higher form of life.
3.14.02 @ 9:17p
Matt, I have agree hate is necessary to all forms of life. While it would be nice to be idealistic and strive for a world where we all get along, if we have no hate or discord, we wouldn't know love and harmony.
Also, just a quick note. I'm very new to this site, and this was my first post. I thank everyone for the constructive criticism.