Most of the worst of what humanity is has been rooted in fear and fertilized with the very best of fertilizers: horse shit. Those with no compunction will make use of whatever they need to make use of, and say whatever they feel needs saying, true or otherwise, in order to get what they want and to convince others to do what they want. Morality disappears in the face of fear, no matter how groundless the fear, or how self-serving… and fear will, when required, hide itself behind hate.
I was eight years old when the now historic McCarthy trials began and wise enough to be faking illness on a regular basis in order to stay home and actually learn things. Lying on the couch on one of those days, pretending to be unwell, pretending also to be watching some innocuous television program to mask the fact that I was perusing the encyclopaedia, something such as I’d never heard before caught my attention. I thought at first that it was the news, but it wasn’t; what I was hearing sounded like courtroom dialogue. I glanced over and saw on the small black and white television screen a large room filled with people. Someone was being questioned. It was live television and the expressions that I observed on the greyscale white faces in that tiny televised room captured my attention.
Because of my own background at that point in time, a history that included being sexually trafficked by my own grandfather, I had learned how to read people’s faces very well and what I saw in that room terrified me. I saw more stark hatred in that room — in in the interrogator’s face — than I had ever seen in anyone’s face. I couldn’t look away. To this day, I can still both see what I saw and feel what I felt that day. These days I get to see hate-filled white faces like those almost every day, but now, thanks to advances in technology, which apparently far outstrip advances in humanity, I get to see them in color.
In McCarthy’s face I had recognized the patent distain for men whom he felt were a disgrace to humanity, which is to say, humanity as he — McCarthy — had learned to identify it to himself… no doubt from some narrow subset of characteristics imbued in his consciousness as a child. That’s where most of us learn hate after all, in childhood.
I learned it from the face of my grandfather, who felt perfectly entitled to rent out his dark olive-skinned grand-daughters to the wealthy men who were his friends and business associates. And I learned it from the faces of those friends and business associates as well, and I felt it emanating from their bodies. During the McCarthy trials on television that ability to discern hate honed to a fine point. I already knew, based on my own experience, that there were very many, very bad, very rich old white men out there, but through the trials I got to see that there were also very many, perfectly fine, older white men out there as well. Though those men whom I saw as “good” were being treated badly and with disrespect, ultimately the world got to see them vindicated.
These events gave me hope as a young girl. That hope is currently being stretched to its limits… but I am glad that I recognize its presence in me still, glad to have, in the archives of my life, the knowledge that the people whose lives are rooted in fear and who attempt to hide that fear beneath their hate do not necessarily always win the day.
These people around the world, whose lives are informed by hatred and fear of others who do not look or sound like them, come from tribes, tribes that are dying out. All the tribes of all the various skin types and physiognomies are dying out. This scares the people of the tribes. Why, I do not know. Perhaps because it makes them face the fact that humanity itself will one day cease to exist, just like every other species on earth either has done or will do. Life does not stay the same. If it did, it would not continue. It changes, just like the earth changes. Life depends on changes. It adapts… or it is extinguished. Humanity is ever and constantly evolving; this frightens some people, but there’s no stopping either evolution or extinction. Efforts to control evolution, like genocide, serve only to hasten the disappearance of humanity from Earth but the fearful do not seem to understand that, or they choose not to understand it.
I do not cling to the hope that I developed as a child and still carry with me; I am not sure that I cling to anything. I treasure the hope because I can see how fragile it is and because I know how useful it is to me. I have found that my ability to tolerate life and all of its challenges is vastly improved by maintaining hope and by understanding that everything is changeable, that one never looks into the same river, twice… for only the painted river stands still.