Today the reality is simple, in harming our enemy, we ourselves are harmed. Martin Luther King Jr. explained it this way: “To meet hate with retaliatory hate would do nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Hate begets hate, violence begets violence.”
We do not destroy enemies by responding to them with hateful rhetoric and acts; doing so only inflames their hatred towards us. We destroy our enemies when we make them our friends. Hating other Americans will not get us where we want to be as a society, and returning hatred will only perpetuate hatred, leaving our children to live in a world with even more division, hate, and violence.
Today with the spread of weapons of mass destruction and more specifically the inevitable spread of nuclear weapons, Dr. King’s prophecy rings even more true now than when he said, “the choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is between nonviolence or nonexistence.” It is only a matter of time before hate propels extremist to use weapons of mass destruction (which have been used by terrorist on a more limited but still terror-inducing scale in the past, just not in the United States). As more and more nations develop nuclear weapons, the chances of nuclear devices being used in war (again) or shared with terror groups increases. All it would take is a rogue scientist or military officer from Iran or Pakistan (the latter of which developed nuclear weapons with the help of a rogue scientist) or some other nation to help terrorist gain a nuclear device. But it isn’t just terrorist who are a threat. Wars between nations are also a threat to mankind, along with the mutual distrust that exists between nations even when we are not at war. This mistrust and fear leads to the inability to work together toward reducing the threat of war and significantly hinders efforts to reduce poverty, illness, and violence. A cold war between countries can often be just as destructive as a real war. We must not allow the status quo to continue. Love and Kindness must be more powerful than hate. This may sound like wishful thinking, but it is important to realize that until only a few hundred years ago democracy was considered an impossibility – all nations were governed by dictators and kings. In 1776 American democracy was considered merely a passing experiment by many. Likewise human slavery had existed throughout human history, was supported by the Church and the government, and abolishing slavery seemed to be an impossibility. At one time universal suffrage – allowing women the right to vote – seemed a pipedream. So while abolishing war may seem an impossibility – humans have accomplished the impossible before. It is also important to realize that war is man-made and that anything we can create, we can also change. It is possible. But perhaps abolishing all war is too big of an initial goal – what is realistic for now is to reduce war and to reduce violence in our own land.
We start by responding to those Americans we view as ‘others’ with genuine curiosity in an attempt to learn about them without judging them. We must accept that different is not bad. When we accept others how and where they are today (a great act of kindness) then they become more accepting of our differences and of us. We Americans must also be able to celebrate our differences without letting those differences divide us.
Let me say this again: We must be able to celebrate our differences without letting those differences divide us.