A few days ago I saw that someone had linked to my blog, and went over to see what it was all about. I was thoroughly disappointed to see that the person who had linked to my posts, twice, was less than positive – they were downright hateful. After my initial upset calmed down, I opted against engaging in a flamebait war by arguing against each of this person’s claims. That’s beside the point. Instead, I’d like to take this as an opportunity to highlight the need to translate hate.
If you’re not new here, you’ll notice I’ve started a series called Translating Hate. To paraphrase (from James, the instigator of this):
The truth is, it’s almost always easier to feel angry than to feel even momentarily powerless. It is easier to say, “I hate my high school,” than to say, “I couldn’t make the people there respect me.” It’s easier to say, “The Bible says God hates gay people,” than to say, “My belief system does not account for these people I don’t understand.”
Translate Hate in order to uncover what is really behind this hate. More often than not this is rooted in misunderstanding and fear. The point is to turn this hate into something we can all work with – questions, curiosity, a learning experience, and eventually, understanding.
Questioning to understand is valid. But questioning the validity of someone is not.
There are a few regularly readers here who were not all too familiar with some of the topics covered. But they stopped by, did a bit of reading, and began asking questions, in order to gain a deeper understanding of me and others like me. They’ve prompted me to analyze situations which I had yet to imagine. They’ve engaged me in interesting discussions so thought provoking to have produced spin-off posts.
The author of the aforementioned two posts clearly does not understand many of the identities we talk about here. And that’s more than OK. But instead of leaving a comment asking for clarification, maybe doing some more research, or asking someone else, they decided to publicly acknoweldge their unfamiliarity with the subject, and proceeded to immediately discount the mere thought of the existence of people different from them.
I don’t need to justify my identity to anyone in any way. Nobody should ever be required to do this. It’s unjust to discount somebody’s sense of self simply because you’ve never heard the term, because the concept is unfamiliar, because it’s not like you.
Simply because you don’t understand someone’s identity does not make it any less valid. There are many other people who use the same labels as I do here to describe themselves, to define themselves. It was not just an attack on me, it was an attack against countless other people, against entire communities.
People Have Feelings Too
Ironically, I have good reason to believe where this person found my blog, and of all places this is where I was least expecting to be harrassed for writing about who I am. So I ask you to think about everything you’ve been through already – despite so many people challenging your identity, despite likely going through many hardships to get to where you are, your inner sense of self remained, and you got through it. Now think about replacing the labels for my identity with those of your identity, and read your words again. Would that have done anything to help you find yourself? Would that have helped others understand you better? Would that have hurt you in any way?
So, I would very much appreciate it if you, the present, past, or future writer of those harmful posts, can take a moment to read what you wrote, what you thought; consider what you felt, and what I felt, and what others felt, and translate that.
How would you feel if it I immediately discounted whatever you are? Even anonymous type written on a screen comes from a person, a person with feelings, who can hurt and be hurt.
Let’s Translate That
Defaulting to rants, instead of dialouge, discounting something as impossible simply because you don’t understand it, is hate. And hate gets you, and me, and everyone else, nowhere. It leaves us exactly where we are: in a world in which discrimination abounds; a world in which we are alienated, hurt, beaten, abused, and deprived of rights, just for who we are. Turning this hatred, which comes from ignorance, from being uncomfortable with the unfamiliar, to a culture of understanding, of learning, of asking questions for the sake of learning to love each other, is only a small step towards improvement, but a step in the right direction nonetheless.
I write to educate, to inform, to transform. I can change this. You can change this. By translating hate.