The Times of Israel published my new article “The Benefits of Diversity”
It is written in the Mishnah (Sotah, 9:15) that at the end of days, hatred will soar. Judging by what is happening today, we’re nearing the end of days. Never has so much hatred been spewed on social media, newspapers, and television, and the wave only seems to crest ever higher. It’s not as if there are no quiet places anymore, but the zeitgeist is simply toxic. One word out of line—and it is super easy to cross the line—and you’re banned, excommunicated from the world.
The racial hatred and anti-racist protests we have seen lately are part of that murky tide. Like all waves, racism-driven riots will have their crests and troughs, but the trend is definitely toward a giant storm.
The hatred will not stop there. As hatred intensifies and spreads, fragments within each group will split from the main corps and form smaller camps that will fight against each other. Society will disintegrate and anarchy will reign. It is written in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 98b) that even the greatest sages would not want to live at the end of days.
Clearly, we are not there yet, but we are heading there. If we don’t reverse course, we’ll get there sooner than we realize.
The Role of Hatred
The problem is that we think that hatred is all bad and harmful. We’re trying not to hate but by doing so, we’re missing the chance to correct it until we face a more intense eruption of hatred.
Hatred is the dislike we feel toward anything that is not us. Our sense of uniqueness is deeply rooted in our psyche, but it is there for a good reason: We perceive only through opposites. If we didn’t grasp the sensation of darkness, we wouldn’t know that there is light. If we didn’t feel what cold is, we wouldn’t be able to feel warmth. Likewise, if we didn’t feel hate, we wouldn’t be able to feel love.
Therefore, when hatred surfaces, we shouldn’t try to stifle or deny it. Instead, we should make a conscious effort to increase our love for the object of our hatred to the point that it is bigger than the hatred that has surfaced. If all the parties involved in the manifestation of hatred participate in the effort, the result will be greater love than ever before. If not all parties take part, the whole process is hopeless.
If all parts of society engage in this endeavor, we will increase the love in our world to levels that we’ve never seen before, and it will be precisely because of the unprecedented level of hatred which forced us to forge a matching level of love. By denying the legitimacy of hate, we are denying the world of love, and sentence it to more intense manifestations of hate that will soon follow.
According to this paradigm, everything that we hate is actually a springboard to experiencing greater love. If today, the most intense hatred manifests between races, this is precisely where the new level of love should appear. However, this will only happen if both sides work together on increasing the love between them to the extent of the current hatred.
I realize this is a completely novel idea and contradicts most everything that we’ve been taught. But on the other hand, what we’ve been taught isn’t working anymore, so it’s time to try a new direction.
The idea is simple: The other person is different from me; I dislike the other person, and I want that person hurt or at least gone. This hatred is what is fueling all the violence we’ve seen in recent weeks and months. If we leave it at that, it’ll blow up the entire country. So instead of letting it fester and grow, we should all make conscious efforts to increase our love for one another, even though it’s clearly fake. Surprisingly, however, our efforts will bear fruit and we will find that we can love people who, a moment ago, we couldn’t stand.
It is a very practical paradigm; it demands courage and commitment, and it is the country’s only hope for avoiding complete meltdown.