There is a trend in America in which we are more and more idolizing people who have at the base of their identity the spread of hate. These people are considered entertaining because of the controversy and the extremism they represent. But our consumption of their product is creating a culture in which hate is heroic.
Every one of these individuals (and so many of their colleagues in the news and in politics) thrives on the message that you should hate someone. You should hate people with opposing political views or different life experiences or different social needs. It doesn't really matter what their defining characteristic is, just make sure you hate.
When was the last time anything great was built out of hate?
The politicians and pundits who thrive on hatred do so at the expense of the political process. Their agendas are not the betterment of our society nearly so much as they are the stroking of their own egos. Every call to hate -- each shriek of moral outrage -- pushes honest solutions and improvements to our society to the back burner while we instead focus our attention on the self-aggrandizing personality, rather than on the problems at hand.
Hate has become a national currency in America. It is our first and favorite reaction to politics and business. And it will continue to be our favorite emotion so long as the likes of Limbaugh and Olbermann are the heroes we choose.
During the Cold War we were fueled not so much by hatred but by fear. We were afraid of what communism might do to us. We were afraid of nuclear war. We were afraid of losing to the USSR. Fear isn't a great emotion either, but a common external fear created some tremendous internal benefits. Fear of losing led Americans to work harder, build more, innovate and create the wealthiest and most powerful country in the history of the world.
Today we don't fear nearly as much as we hate. We hate Islam for 9/11 and our current challenges in Iran and Iraq. And increasingly we hate each other for even the most minor differences of opinion in political policy and personal choices.
We need a new set of heroes. We need people to step up to take on the icons of hate, not to beat them at their own game, but rather to change the rules. We need more heroes who will speak both of building something great and of doing so without tearing someone else down in the process.
There are alternatives. Just one example is a story almost lost among the vuvuzelas and the referee errors at this year's World Cup, where an effort was made to use the platform of this enormous sporting event, being held for the first time on the continent of Africa, to promote the idea of ending racism.
We can sit passively waiting for these heroes to arrive or we can make a conscious effort to seek them out. Tune out and turn off those whose agenda is tilted toward tearing down. Lower their TV and radio ratings. Reduce their votes at the polls.
Once we tune out the hate we can turn our attention to seeking out the builders, the people whose message will create the kind of country of which we can be proud, the people we would be proud to have as heroes, who we want our kids to have as heroes, who our parents and grandparents would choose as heroes.
It's time to end the hate war, before it ends us.
Noah Blumenthal is author of the national best seller "Be the Hero" and was named by Leadership Excellence magazine as one of the world's "Top 100 Minds in Personal Development." Read his blog on Red Room.
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