Bunkers of Hatred

Opus - Mental Floss

It’s so much easier to edit other people’s work than my own. In that I (usually) know exactly what I meant to say/write, my brain plows ahead and overrides my capacity for reading analytically.

Perhaps this same phenomenon is at work in our attitudes and beliefs as well: we lose the ability to step back and dispassionately examine the stance that we’ve taken. Our words begin to form our belief structure (when it should be the other way around) as we dig our heels in the sand. Even when we’re proven wrong, we strut along in our Emperor’s new clothes and refuse to adjust our position.

This tends to be most prevalent during times of political turmoil or social change: no matter how many times something is proven or disproved there are those who jam their fingers in their ears and raise their voices in order to drown out those annoying and inconvenient facts.

Last week I was unfortunate enough to overhear a conversation at a nearby table in a local restaurant. Two men and two women were discussing political issues – and their volume was such that there was no escaping their words.

I won’t sully this page with the details. Suffice to say that the range of topics included an assertion that President Obama is a “socialist Muslim” and “everyone knows that blacks, as a race, have lower IQs than whites.”

I have encountered far less overt racism here in the south than I did in Illinois and I was stunned by what I was hearing.

Did I wade in and rebut their “points”? No. I simply paused by their table as I was leaving and said, “I told the waitress that you’d be paying for my coffee. Your ignorance and disgusting comments curdled the cream and upset my stomach.”

Some (like those four) are just incapable of self-editing. They’ve built their bunkers of hatred, brick by brick, over the years and now huddle behind them, smug in their belief in their own superiority. They use the term (usually sotto voce) “Those People” never realizing that we are all “Those People” to someone else.

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Image: Opus - Mental Floss is from the Opus comic strip created by Berke Breathed.
Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.