Reflecting upon a week of hate in America makes you wonder if anybody ever listened to The Beatles’ song “All We Need Is Love” — which became synonymous with the now hopelessly antiquated 1967 Summer of Love ethos.
Then again, John Lennon was gunned down, too.
The week of Oct. 22 to 27 in America was Hell jumping into a H.G. Wells time machine and coming back from the afterlife to this life. Hell on earth is no place for civil people to be.
The land of the free and the home of the brave has become a cruel and foreboding place with all of us potentially living on the precipice of man-made catastrophe.
The problem is there are too many people among us whose minds are dark woods full of lightning bugs, folks with itchy trigger fingers with an uproarious appetite for destruction.
The raw violence in America has become commonplace. The blisters on the heart and the sear marks on the soul have become commonplace.
In the cacophony of chaos the incessant refrain is indeed eerie — the howl of the wolf and the bleat of the lamb.
A week that will live in infamy began on Monday, Oct. 22, when packages containing apparent pipe bombs began arriving (some were intercepted by authorities) at the doorsteps of high-profile Democrats including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Maxine Waters, former CIA director John Brennan and billionaire George Soros.
On Friday, Oct. 26, police arrested 56-year-old Cesar Savoc, a staunch Trump supporter and allegedly a wild conspiracy theorist.
On Wednesday, Oct. 24 there was a shooting at a Kroger’s in Kentucky. That two people died at the grocery store wasn’t a stunning surprise, considering that 96 people are killed by guns every day in America and hundreds more are shot.
George Alan Bush allegedly executed a black man and a black woman but didn’t engage a white man outside because, as a witness reported, he uttered “whites don’t kill whites” as he passed by “nonchalantly.” Later it was revealed that he tried and failed to enter a predominantly black church minutes earlier.
Then on Saturday, Oct. 27, came unfathomable carnage when an avowed anti-Semite named Robert Bowers, armed with three pistols and a semiautomatic assault-style rifle, walked into a synagogue and killed 11 people and wounded six more after screaming, “All Jews must die!”
The deadly shooting at Tree Of Life Synagogue on the Sabbath in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood — which ironically once was Mr. Rogers real-life neighborhood — is considered to be the worst attack on worshiping Jewish people in American history.
A week disgustingly populated with crimes unified under the same banner of racism, violent rhetoric and anger.
In the wincing wake of all this, reasonable people decry the availability of guns — especially high-powered artillery — in America as well as all the hateful rhetoric spewing like poisonous spittle from sea to shining sea.
Yes, words at times do elicit action. It is a matter of stimulus and response. Just ask any lab mouse.
But there is a bigger picture here than just guns and verbiage. Why do we hate? And why, in particular, do we hate difference?
Hatred of difference explains why people hate a whole race of people or hate a whole set of people with certain sexual orientations or gender identities, etc.
According to the respected psychotherapist Andrea Mathews, who specializes in cognitive and transpersonal therapy, that kind of hate is projection.
Writes Mathews, “I’m insecure in myself, in my identification with my culture, in my sexual orientation, in my gender, so I project hatred onto you because I’m not real sure that if I don’t, I won’t hate myself.”
So here’s the thing about hate of difference. It says everything about the hater and nothing about the hated.
“Projection means that I’ve got some work to do on myself to become a whole person,” Mathews writes. “Projection means that I’ve split myself off into compartments of consciousness and unconsciousness, so that I don’t know things that I don’t want to know about myself, and I project those things onto others for them to carry for me. Projection means that I need to become conscious of those things I’m repressing so that I can own them and being to cherish them as unique and meaningful aspects of a whole me.”
Unfortunately, too many people who project hate are blind in their miasmal fog and couldn’t find their whole me if you handed them a compass and a GPS.
Sadly, a seismic shift in the climate of fear and loathing in America hardly lies taut on the horizon like a drawn bowstring.