The movie “42” tells the story of Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947.
One of the most heartbreaking scenes is when a young, white boy and his father attend a Brooklyn Dodgers game, and as Robinson takes the field, the father starts screaming, “hey nigger, we don’t want you here.” Others in the crowd join in.
Reluctantly and visibly uncomfortable about the taunts and racial slurs, the boy joins his father in yelling at Robinson.
Every time I watch it (it’s one of my favorites), it reminds me of “Long Walk to Freedom” when Nelson Mandela said: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
And today we need that love more than ever. Because hate seems to be everywhere.
A CNN/ORC poll from December 2015 suggested 69 percent of Americans are either “very angry” or “somewhat angry” about the way things are going in the US.
Ferguson. San Bernardino. Charleston. Black Lives Matter. White Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. All Lives Matter. Anti-gay, anti-Jew, anti-Muslim, anti-refugees, anti-government. Gun rights vs gun control. The very rich vs the very poor and the middle class.
And it surely affected the 2016 Presidential race.
Mark Potok, editor of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, wrote in February 2016: “the number of hate and antigovernment ‘Patriot’ groups grew last year and terrorist attacks and radical plots proliferated.”
He continued: “Antigovernment militiamen, white supremacists, abortion foes, domestic Islamist radicals, neo-Nazis and lovers of the Confederate battle flag targeted police, government officials, black churchgoers, Muslims, Jews, schoolchildren, Marines, abortion providers, members of the Black Lives Matter protest movement and even drug dealers.
“They laid plans to attack courthouses, banks, festivals, funerals, schools, mosques, churches, synagogues, clinics, water treatment plants and power grids.
“The situation appears likely to get worse, not better, as the country continues to come to terms with its increasing diversity … Americans are arguably as angry as they have been in decades.”
This is heartbreaking to me. The problem will not get better if we continue to let it grow.
In Galatians 6:7, the Apostle Paul wrote, “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
Jeffrey R. Holland said: “if we sow thistles, we don’t really plan to get strawberries … we sow a little thistle and we get a lot of thistle — years and years of it, big bushes and branches of it. We never get rid of it unless we cut it out.
“If we sow a little bit of hate, before we know it we’ve reaped a lot of hate — smoldering and festering and belligerent and finally warring, malicious hate.”
We don’t have time for this. There are many great things waiting to be discovered, learned and shared.
President Abraham Lincoln said: “No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention … Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him.”
It’s also bad for our health.
Harvard-trained and board-certified cardiologist Dr. Cynthia Thaik said: “Prolonged bouts of anger can take a toll on the body in the form of high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, headaches and poor circulation. Research also shows that even one five-minute episode of anger is so stressful that it can impair your immune system for more than six hours. These can lead to more serious problems such as heart attacks and stroke.”
We simply need to stop it.
“When it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf said. “When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:
In November 2014, following the grand jury investigation in Ferguson, Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints penned a Facebook post that went viral.
“Ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against and … abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie.
“But I’m encouraged because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus. I’m encouraged because the Gospel gives mankind hope.”
Uchtdorf continued: “We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children.”
I believe this is the way.
If we can learn to hate, we can be taught to love.