As a general rule in the comfort of our own homes we are a fairly peace-loving people. Don’t get me wrong. We march, we protest when the mood strikes us (not often) but given the choice, we like to get along with our co-workers and our next door neighbors.
Why, then, do we go on a hate-fest when certain people (usually celebrities) come on the scene? Politicos get it in the ear, of course. Instead of disagreeing with policies, folks focus their hate on the person.
For example, George W. Bush (Dubya) comes under high criticism—not his speech writers or the bills he signs or the policies he endorses, but him, most definitely personally. A strong, viscerally juicy hate.
We don’t hate the devil, usually. Too dangerous, like standing under a tree in a thunderstorm. And we don’t hate God (except in certain tragic situations.)
But we do hate Bill Gates. Why? He’s a nerd, and he’s got a pretty wife, and an admirable foundation. However, I’ve heard, in my lifetime, at least dozens of people announce emphatically, “I HATE Bill Gates.” Why?
Don’t get me started on the women! I once had a partner who would leave the room whenever Hillary Clinton came on the tube, with the pronouncement, “She makes me SICK.” Not her health care plan, not the philandering husband she stood by, not her advancement of women’s issues. No, it was her, and her alone.
Sarah Palin has polarized the entire female contingency. You are either for-her or agin-her. A good friend of mine, a normally mild mannered lady, gets apoplectic when Sarah happens on the scene. It’s like watching a poodle morph into a rottweiller.
And Martha Stewart? I find Martha to be a shy vulnerable child (sometimes) abandoned within a witch’s psyche. I can only imagine what her childhood must have been like. But some people, men and women alike will announce, “I just HATE her!” Why, I wonder.
One of the psychological defenses that’s been lurching about since Freud’s day is projection. We project onto others those parts of ourselves that we can’t stand. Is that what’s going on here? Are there bits and pieces of these folks that are really parts of ourselves? And exactly which ones might those be, I wonder.
Or, in group therapy, anger is often directed at the leader (the safe target) rather than at the actual target of your displeasure (that big guy sitting next to you.) Maybe that’s the issue here? That these people are immensely stronger, bigger, more (potentially) dangerous than we are?
Maybe they represent (horrors!) those images of mom and dad we’ve introjected and held on to and feared since we were little bitty guys.
I wish sometimes, that we had the character of Truman, who announced when he sat down at the White House desk, “the buck stops here.”
I dream that we can someday take responsibility for our own foibles and failures and own up to the fact that maybe some of those ‘hates’ we carry are really our own stuff.
That will be the day when we can get on with the business of living: disliking the policies, but acknowledging the right of individuals to be imperfect.
Peace, my friends. I don’t dislike any of you.
But that left eyebrow of mine that always twitches? I just HATE that!