Religion is a one of the greatest unifiers and dividers of humanity, yet in the context of hate, it only fuels a fraction of our propensity to abhor one another. History tells us that we don’t need much. Our selfish ideologies, desires, greed, and need for self-preservation, all feed the compulsion to take, at the minor cost of kindness and sacrifice of humanity. We survive in groups of sameness, amassing both tribesman and enemies alike, collecting primitive trophies of our rival’s failures, while unwittingly feasting in shared gluttony of our adversaries dismembered dreams.
All the while, fertilizing a thorn-filled garden of divisiveness, envy, hate, and control.
Its all human and we have learned to sew those rows of division through conflict. As a fuel for our growth, it frequently challenges our ideals of justice and fairness, allowing for the airing of grievances, the righting of wrongs, and occasionally spotlighting acts of singular defiance that shape our societal norms. Human conflict is more natural than the manufactured ideologies used to reinforce false identities founded on spurious claims of superiority and the maintenance of seemingly insurmountable divisions.
Conflict is a constant. A seed that germinates into a doctrine of surrender building the foundations for walls that keep us apart. Lest the different foliage of budding racist, sexist, “other”, or scriptural ivies distract us, we must accept that the wall is still a wall, regardless of its adornment. Though they admittedly make good neighbors, they tend to get in the way of building bridges. Above all, we desperately need more bridges to facilitate a path to reclaim the common ground needed to root the thorny weeds of selfish progress. This is our world and conflict is in it. We must accept it, embrace it when the scales have tipped in the favor of an oppressor, yet we must not allow it to consume us.
Our once small family learned to do so, prior to overpopulating the planet. It was as necessary for their survival as it is ours, yet as we expand, we fail to recognize that our branches further exponentially intertwined, and our once independent self-interests ripple across much vaster tributaries. We need each other to solve the problems we’ve created. No amount of prayer will restore the temperature we’ve already sacrificed by failing to change our habits, nor will prayer restore the stolen lives lost to bias, power, apathy, or enslavement. So perhaps in tilling the soil with scorched ashes of antiquated beliefs of superiority, whether derived by status, scripture or privilege, we might provide the proper environment for us to bury the hatred permanently. However, if we only see value in our own likened seedlings, we will never realize “Eden”.
Therefore, I offer my humanism as a plow. It’s old and has a natural tendency to drag a little, true. It requires pushing and pulling to be effective, but it accommodates individual agency. There is a requirement that you do, as there is a requirement that that I do. We are required to work together without overpowering each other. It will not resolve all conflict, but it provides a path to common ground and a way of valuing our humanity without judgment.
Of course, I realize supplanting one set of beliefs for another rarely yields the desired effect, so I understand that it would take significantly more than its abandonment. Tradition defines culture, we are creatures of habit, and we believe we must belong to our own tribes. I also realize that regardless of said beliefs, just as in any reformation, conflict is inevitable.
Consequentially, what if we agreed to graft in our bed instead of beating our plow? We prune the worst of our traits and mutually find the best of our ideas, grafting them into our individual branches in our shared garden, allowing for our unique instances of flowering humanity.
We won’t entirely eradicate animus from our grounds, but perhaps we might just pluck a future vase, filled with “lesser hate.”
Images via Creative Commons :
Katina Rogers, Loz Pyock, Steve Snodgrass, Ray Larabie, Bixentro