Where does it come from? Is it imprinted in our DNA? Is it something like Oscar Hammerstein wrote about in “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”… something we learn at the knees of our mothers? Is it nurtured by our culture and allowed to grow by our competitive win-at-any-cost way of life? Animosity. Animosity is the outward manifestation of hate and of fear. It is the sour half rotten fruit harvested and unleashed into the world as a motivating force for the bitter and often cruel episodes that can lead to war, oppression of the individual and always lead to the placing of barriers toward progress.
On the World Stage animosity is used to fire a population toward hating a dissimilar culture so that war can be waged . We are shown how our “enemy” is less than human…… they are out to bring ruin to our world, they live to kill us, they are less than animals, their religion is so much less than ours… it is corrupt, they are pagan. We see our “enemy” as being led by a satanically influenced leader who gets off on killing babies… our babies and is jealous of our way of life. Animosity that is built on lies and caricature has a purpose. When the tale is told often enough, it is believed and the hate spreads, and in our minds it becomes justified.
Gay men and women live with the animosity of the culture in the United States. It is a hate focused of the GLBT Community by our inheritance of the Puritan Culture as filtered down to us by organized religion and its zealots who believe that everyone must conform to their tenets. Use of hate inspired by fear and directed toward a minority can be an efficient means to raise funds and perpetuate the “Word.” This demonization of an entire group in the name of “God” becomes still worse when it is picked up by the politician as a means of securing votes. It is the same shameless means used in years past by these same people against other minorities. But in this modern world, the only safe domestic target for religious and political animosity is the Queer Community. So, we see the continued suppression of that group’s rights… “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is still in force, and “DOMA” remains enshrined in the laws of the United States of America. We see all of this filter into the attitudes of those charged with enforcing the local laws. We see it when a lesbian or a gay man is assaulted for being who she or he is, and their complaint to law enforcement is taken as being less than serious or blown-off entirely. All of this being fertilized and fanned by the ill-will, resentment and hate coming from those that thrive and are enriched by animus and are the proud vectors that carry it. It reminds me of a saying I saw on a bumper sticker that I could immediately relate to: “Lord keep me safe and protect me… from your followers.”
All minorities experience the animosity of much of the majority. It was through this resentment and distrust that people of color were and are forced to tread on the very slow march to equality. Organized Religion, Politics, Law Enforcement… all of these had their part in the history of racial prejudice and its maintenance. It took almost a hundred years before a leader would come to national attention and shake the conscience of most of the country, and he was murdered in that hideous decade of assassinations, the 1960s. Animosity helped load the guns in that decade. It led the fingers to the triggers, and it gave the cowards the strength to pull the triggers and blow away a decade of hope.
Animosity! We should be so weary of hate and its by-products. We should be so weary that we reject it out-of-hand. Instead, so many of us continue to embrace it. It is with us today. It is alive at Town meetings where Democracy is being abused by those who would rather hurl invective and their patented slogans than take the time to investigate the subject they are railing against. By now, because we have lived with it for so much of our lives, we should be able to recognize animus even when it masquerades as democratic debate. Is it not animosity that pictures the President as Hitler and paints him as a Nazi in full regalia, with swastikas on his arm and in the background? Is it not animosity that inspires signs that allude to the bloody deaths of patriots and tyrants? (Haven’t we had enough political death in this country?) Is it not animus that picture the President of the United States as being hanged in effigy? If the very reasonable and very necessary Universal Health Care Bill goes down to defeat, or does not reach the Legislature it will be because of this hatred and because of the animosity of the “haves” that is directed toward the “have not’s.” We live in a country where, according to Time Magazine, in a review of the book, “The healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care’ 20,000 people die each year because they cannot afford to see a doctor, and where 700,000 people suffer bankruptcy each year because of medical bills. (My god, is this not the wealthiest country in the world?) Yet we are going to let this health care Bill fail because we are being led toward the negative by opposition politicians who see themselves at war with any proposal put forth by the party they oppose, and are fighting that “war” rather than looking out for the good of the country they purport to serve. For shame! Shame of them, and even more so, shame on those who fall for it.
As we grow morally, we should become so wary of those who would lead us through the spread of their negative attitudes, their animosity, their belittling of others, their …….. their hate.