Hate Make Us Less Than What We Are
Sun “Small World” Column, Monday, February 8 / 21
When times are good, history tells us that social peace is the
rule in society. But when times are tough, some of our
worst traits come out. Living stressful lives makes many
look for whom to blame, makes us harder-line in our thinking,
and can cause us to act irrationally and violently.
You can see the fear these days, often caused by feelings of
things being out of our control and of ever-present danger
lurking in our everyday world. For instance, a virus
stalks all of us, having already infected over 100 million
people worldwide and killed well over two million to date.
People fear for their health and that of their loved ones.
They fear and experience loss of income, loss of community
activity, and are stressed by changes in routines and
As well, our climate is changing drastically in front of our
eyes, with unprecedented and violent storms, droughts, wildfires
and more in every part of the globe. You can also see the fear
as our world’s demographic makeup has changed with the greatest
migration of people since the Second World War. There is a
fear of strangers, and fear of lost jobs. There is always
fear of change and outside threats for those who are
comfortable, but that fear may be even greater for those who are
just hanging on, with a poor-paying or no job.
We are being asked to rely on our governments, our scientists
and other leaders in society to take a major role in helping us
through these challenges. We want quick solutions and the
chance to get back to normal. One wonders if governments
expected the hysteria that has resulted from our reality of
COVID-19, climate change and social upheaval. The QAnon
conspiracy theories for instance, the storming of the U.S.
Capitol, and the demonstrations and civil disobedience that have
caused property damage, death and further spreading of the
Our confidence in our leaders isn’t enhanced by the sense of
entitlement of people who traveled when asked not to and then
complained when they had to quarantine or, having gotten sick in
another jurisdiction, had to cover their own medical
bills. Leaders who tell us what we should do but don’t
think it applies to them are yet another slap in our faces!
But in our dark days, you can also see the positive side of the
equation. Captain Tom Moore (and now mourning his recent
death) raised millions for the British National Health
Service. Medical professionals and front line workers
continue to sacrifice their physical and mental health and their
family lives to serve others. Businesses and families,
despite tough economic times, pour record amounts of donations
into food banks and other charities.
I recently attended via Zoom the meeting of a Manitoba food bank
that has had its programs turned upside down by the
pandemic. One of the staff was giving a year-end financial
report, which you might expect to be mired in red ink. She
broke down in tears when covering the revenue portion of the
report as local donations were more than double what had been
budgeted before the pandemic hit. These were tears of joy,
surprise and gratitude.
It is also instructive when looking at public opinion polls, to
see that voters, taxpayers and consumers (some of us are all
three!), want their political leaders to find ways to co-operate
in these difficult times. While debate must be allowed and
people can hold differing opinions, the politics of division and
hate will not improve our situation. A survey recently
showed that the greatest emotion in the U.S. after the change of
administration was relief. Facebook reports a major
downturn in Trump-related postings and an uptick in pictures of
puppies and kittens! But this is not only an American
problem. We see ideological thinking in our own country
and around the world.
It is useful to compare our current situation to that of past
generations who have had to deal with challenges at least as
onerous as what we face today. We must keep in mind that
in relatively recent history, our immediate ancestors have been
faced with two World Wars, with a major global flu epidemic,
with a life-altering Stock Market Crash, with loss of land and
Residential Schools, the Holocaust, the Holodomor, and more.
How we handle current difficulties – hopefully with patience,
compassion, creativity and resilience – will define
us and our legacy, and strengthen generations to come.
Zack Gross is Board Chair of The Marquis Project, a Manitoba-based international