"I hate you!" said in a loud, shrill, almost crying voice. "I hate you so much I could kill you." What evokes those hateful feelings usually involves anger, a sense of being hurt or perhaps fear. And the degree of the abuse in the interchange often is much higher from one person than the other.
So when someone directs their hatred at you, a sense of puzzlement may arise. "Hate me? Why?" or even minimization may occur: Why do you hate me? I have done nothing to you."
I sat on the couch next to a younger friend. The news show was covering a fiery crowd of middle-easterners, shouting hair-raising slogans and burning the American flag. "Why are they so angry at us? What have we done to them?" my young friend asked.
I remember a former president saying, "They are angry at us because of our freedom!" Really? It seems that would be envy, not fear, anger or a sense of being hurt. And yet, that type of reason, that quality of explanation is often given to rationalize the anger of another nation.
I saw the movie ARGO today (high recommendations for the actor, director and co-producer, Ben Affleck. A very good movie.). It was set in the late 1970s, contained a thunderous, "rageous" crowd of Teheren, Iran citizens storming the American Embassy--very intense, on the edge of overwhelming.
"Why do they hate us so?" Is it because of our freedom, our wealth, our way of life? Not exactly. The Iranians hate us because in 1953 the CIA inspired a coup d'etat placing the Shah of Iran in power, in place of a democraticly-elected government. That Shah lived in opulence while many subjects suffered in dehumanizing poverty. British and American oil companies took over control of Iranian oil; and took much wealth from Iran until the revolution of the late 1970s. A new government came into existence awash with anger, volatile anger at the United States.
I would not whitewash the Iranian nor American governments of any dark stains over the past sixty years; but neither can we hide behind our truly amazing freedoms, asking "Why do they hate us so?" Indeed as we continue our efforts to go forward building our perfect union, we do not have to be so taken with ourselves that we insist we have already achieved perfection.
"Why do they hate us so?" May we work to change that question to "Why do they admire us so?"