When the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual "hate group report" last week, it noted that the number of these groups in the United States had risen by 54 percent since 2000, and there was a 4 percent increase between 2007 and 2008. Hate groups are defined as "groups with beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people." According to the report, the feeling that immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans is one of the leading reasons for a resurgence of hate. The election of an African-American President is another ("Growing hate groups blame Obama, economy," CNN, Feb. 26).
It's easy to ignore these reports, especially if you're not among the haters or among their targets. But the fact is that the situation deserves our prayers. Thousands of people are involved in these organizations to some degree, and their thoughts are being shaped by people skilled in the "art" of hatred. Nor are these the only people who are hating others because of skin color, ethnicity, national origin. It is a global problem.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, gave a strong incentive for such prayer in an article on loving one's enemies. "Hate no one;" she wrote, "for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and kills at last. If indulged, it masters us; brings suffering upon suffering to its possessor, throughout time and beyond the grave" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896," p. 12). Who would want anyone to experience such a fate? This statement is a call to the recognition that to hate is an unnatural act. It has nothing to do with the true nature of anyone. In reality, we are all spiritual and are defined by divine Love, not by hate. Each of us is or can be free from destructive influences.
Hatred often acts superior, but behind its strut are cowardice and fear. These are not qualities that God gives to any of His children. They have their roots in the belief that all creation is essentially material and that certain individuals within this material realm are naturally superior to others. Those who are inferior have no value and can safely be despised.
Fear also tends to separate, to argue that there are those who need to be feared because they could take good away from us or from others. Also that our provision is limited, even though God is infinite Love, and that only some will have enough. The Bible replies, "Ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). Within this oneness, each of us is distinct and has a divinely appointed purpose, while at the same time as fellow sons and daughters of God, everyone has the same relation to God. No one is shut out, left out, or thrown out of His kingdom. God loves His creation, including all its diverse elements, and He created only good.
It follows then that hatred, which is definitely not good, can have no staying power in the heart that is willing to reach out in love to others – even those who do not love in return. Jesus made this point: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). Knowing the sacrifices he made on humanity's behalf provides an outstanding example for us to follow in prayer and in prayer-inspired actions.
Seeing ourselves and others from a spiritual standpoint frees one from anger toward those who practice hatred. It may also provide intelligent ways to communicate a higher, more inspired viewpoint to those who are under hate's influence. Divine intelligence can enlighten their thoughts and bring them peace and the willingness to honor established laws.
God never made hate or a hater. The hateful element of thought has no place in the divine creation, and no place in anyone. Because we are children of divine Love, it's natural to love one another. Our prayers can prove this, as we diligently affirm, day after day, the love, intelligence, and wisdom that God has given to all.