Oma Mateen


I'd like to think that hate is something I'm not very good at.

Truth is, it's more likely something I'm just not very persistent with.

Give it time, and the right circumstances, and maybe I could hate as well as Omar Mateen, or Thomas Mair, who in recent days killed 49 LGBT revellers at an Orlando club, and a progressive MP in Yorkshire.

I hate. But not for very long, or in a sustained way. There are people I will drop from my life, an almost but not entirely practical response to behaviours I find intolerable. The idea of sustaining an unpleasant feeling to someone on a long term basis seems like a form of self harm. I've always found better things to get on with regarding people I dislike - given the choice between an hour of concentrated hate and a meal with a friend, I know which wins.

It's possible that I don't take things seriously enough. (Other than myself, of course.) You pretty much have to take things with deadly seriousness if you're going to hate at all convincingly. And frankly, I can't be bothered. I can dislike someone enough to make a passing bitchy comment or two, but there's a long road between there and killing them that I just can't be arsed with. Really. Saying you could kill someone for whatever wrong they've apparently done is one thing, actually going through with the planning and execution of such a feat, something else altogether.

And I suspect some of you are thinking I'm not taking hate seriously enough. Possibly even thinking less of me for doing so - but again, falling short of the passion required to eliminate me. Frankly, you're not much of a hater.

Actually though, in my flippant way I'm being deadly serious. It's taking things seriously that makes things serious. And really, I'd recommend just...not bothering. 

Somewhere in all this, there's something interesting about how we hold our feelings and thoughts in our bodies. A deeply wise friend of mine, working with some people she felt usurped her within the organisation where she and they were independently consulting, was using phrases like 'take it to heart' about the situation. And sure enough, it seemed to weigh heavy on her in an uncharacteristic way as she talked about it. I invited her to consider the situation again, and to 'hold it lightly'. Within seconds, the sparkle returned to her eyes and voice, and her comprehension of the people she'd decided to be wary of changed. 

Now, I don't suppose that such an approach could change things all magically with Mateen or Mair had I happened to encounter them before they became known for the lives they took. Some people hone their hate for years, and take it very seriously indeed. The friend I invited to 'hold it lightly' is someone I've known for a long time, and self aware enough that I was confident her investigation of the distinction I suggested would take her somewhere. 



Who we are is not fixed. We are fluid and multiple and both causal and nonlinear and all of these things and more in and between every moment. Whatever statement we can make about ourselves, somewhere in there we're likely to represent the opposite just as adequately. Some people cope with this better than others. Homophobic Omar Mateen was also homosexual, it seems, and took out his inability to accept those contradictions on people who wanted nothing more than a good night. We don't know yet what drove Thomas Mair, but he apparently identified with fascist politics to the extent that he couldn't accept the existence of Jo Cox, a socialist devoted to global reform. 

If we can't accept paradoxes internally, then we're probably more likely to express our apparent contradictions externally. And there really is no need for that. Whitman expressed it back in the day in his famous realisation 'Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.' Personally, I prefer the way that artists such as Eminem, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar toy with that schism in their music, exploring different aspects of themselves through different personas - Whitman identified the core of it, but never really got down with his bad self.

No easy conclusion here. Why would there be? There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for anything. Better to embrace the multiplicity of reality, maybe play with it using whatever form of self expression appeals to you, than try and make sense of something as various as human experience. The only thing that does seem to make sense is not to take anything too seriously, since whatever belief you might have about something right now, odds are you'll be thinking otherwise soon enough.