Roger Marolt: There is a threat larger than global warming
Many believe global warming is the greatest existential threat to humanity and our planet. I used to believe this, but no longer. The proliferation of hatred looms larger as the greater catastrophic threat. Hatred is a more powerful force than greenhouse gases. By way of example, global warming could kill millions in the generations to come. Hatred, through many varieties of its putrid fruit, could do the same tomorrow.
It comes down to this for me: What is the point of saving the planet if we continue our escalating trajectory of hatred? Without addressing hatred first, all we do is ensure future generations will exist in increasing darkness of soul, misery of mind, and desperation of heart.
By so many measures, life on our planet today is the most comfortable it has been in human history. We are living longer. Child mortality has been cut in half in the past half century. There are far fewer people in the world starving today than ever before. And still, we seem to hate each other all the more. Prosperity ushers envy, greed and discontent to the front row.
I don’t know if it’s possible to measure how much hatred is in the world today relative to historical data points. Are threats of war a good proxy? Incidents of genocide? School, church and workplace shootings? Rapes? Incidents of slavery? Acts of war? Terrorist activities? Sweat shops?
I don’t know if data miners have an answer. So, if we are left with only a feeling that we are loving each other less over time, are we to ignore this as nothing more than misguided emotion? It feels more real than ever to me.
We can at least pinpoint the tip of the iceberg. The most recent FBI statistics on the subject indicate that reported hate-based crimes against people grew to 4,571 last year for a year-to-year increase of almost 12% and the highest number in 16 years. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that the number of active U.S. hate groups in 2019 was the highest in history at 1,020.
For 2018, The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, headquartered at California State University in San Bernardino, reported that hate crimes increased by 9% in 30 large metropolitan areas in 2018. Most experts acknowledge that the vast majority of hate crimes go unreported.
Hatred is not limited to violent crime, either. It is apparent in politics, too. At home, our nation appears to be more firmly divided than at any time since the Civil War. Abroad, we agitate our long-time allies. International discussions are more often tense.
Here is a painful admission: I have spent far too much time in the past several years hating Donald Trump. I have despised leading Republican politicians. I have loathed the crowds at Trump’s rallies. I have been angry with local Republicans. I have judged harshly those wearing red MAGA hats. I have felt superior. And, lots of Republicans have hated Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, all “liberals” and me, too. Many reach out to tell me as much, threaten me, wish horrible things for me. It has worn me down. The friction has spurred feelings ranging from anger to despair. It is poison. My hunch is that many, many people have experienced similar feelings across our nation and probably throughout the world.
If you can see all of this hatred we experience in the world today resulting in a workable solution to curbing global warming, or anything else, I would like to see the plans. Hatred churns out bad information to punish. Hatred provokes anger, which is the construction material of barriers. Hatred loves disaster. Hatred roots for failure.
And yet, we can fix this. If hatred in my own heart begins to eat away at the humanity within, which I am acknowledging that it has begun to do, then I know I can address it and push it out. While we will never be able to completely eliminate our collective carbon footprint, we can cleanse all hatred from our hearts. With the grace of God and firm personal resolve, this is within our power. It could happen today.
Most experts agree that hate is not innate in the human makeup. We learn it. According to researcher and primatologist Robert Sapolsky, “The mind that hates can be re-trained if human beings can imagine a role-reversal where the people we hate and ourselves can be experienced equivalently in order to conceive of an integration of human existence.” In other words, do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.
This leads to one gigantic speculation: Could the crusade against global warming be more effective if we hate each other less? Most of us will not profit from trying to save the environment. There is no instant gratification in solving this problem. Mostly we have talk to motivate us, which is proving not to be as effective as we need. In as much, could an increase in love for each other be the motivation that moves viable solutions forward? I do it for you and you do it for me. We have to try this.
Roger Marolt knows that no outcome can justify hatred to achieve it. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.