Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Campus Climate: Hate

Third, the power of hate is far larger than I think many of us believe. I believe it ranges from the slightest lack of compassion to violent and open aggression. Every time a person’s beliefs are belittled, ignored, or put down we are severing the lines of human connection and opting instead for a path of misunderstanding, resentment, fear, and ultimately hatred. What I see happening on Skidmore’s campus is a willing indifference toward each other. This comes in forms as simple as derogatory comments behind people’s backs, or ignoring people to their faces. We can be extremely rude as people and incredibly hurtful.

I have seen friendships disintegrate before my eyes. Sometimes people just do not get along, and that is ok. But the mean things that people do to each other, the rude things they say to each other, the utter lack of respect for human emotion that they show toward each other is not acceptable. I’ve seen it all, from blame games to open aggression. And everyone walks away feeling hurt. They feel just a little less accepted in that part of the community. Just a little more alienated and alone. Sometimes it is based on aspects of privilege, love triangles, room mate conflicts, disrespect to other friends or family, jealousy, misunderstanding, incompatibility of personality, awkward hook-ups, indifference, egotistical behavior, and the list goes on. What part of our campus climate has taken us this point that we would walk in the opposite direction just to avoid our First-year room mate? What part of our campus climate has made it so that we will never talk to that person we had a one-night stand with because it’s just too awkward? What part of our campus climate has made us so bitter that it affects our academic life?

Hatred comes in the form of non-engagement as well. When we say to ourselves that we will never talk to that person again, we will never acknowledge their presence or validity as a person, we are perpetuating the cycle of hurt and hate. We all have a part in leaving our wounds open to further transgression. Hate can manifest in non-action. It is the pain that controls our lives and offers no reprieve from a life of sorrow. We all carry pain. Extraordinary in scope and depth. We cannot continue to ignore the wide ranging consequences of our hatred. And we cannot ignore our own agency in stopping it.