The United States is being called upon to learn a profound lesson, one which is necessary to its peace and progress, and, perhaps in the ultimate analysis, to its very survival as well. Yet the truth of this lesson has been available for many centuries, being set forth sharply and urgently in the book of Proverbs: “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Seldom if ever in its history have an understanding and an acceptance of these words been more sorely needed in the United States than today.
Out of the twin trials of the war in Vietnam and of race relations, there have arisen widespread evidences of hate, of bitterness, of resort to violence, of intolerance. These in turn have spawned acts and attitudes of which no American should be other than deeply ashamed and which have so seriously tarnished America’s image abroad.
Stark and savage as it was, the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was but the outward manifestation of the hatred felt in so many hearts. It was the sudden volcanic explosion of the uncontrolled and unsubdued forces which lie below the surface.
Similarly, the bitterness which has arisen over American policies in Southeast Asia have, in a sense, produced its victims. The decision of the President of the United States not to seek reelection is but one example of this. So, in part, are the bitterness being shown various presidential candidates, and the intolerance exhibited toward differing viewpoints. As Russell Baker wrote in the New York Times, “A good part of the population has been hooked on hate for a long time now....”
Such bitterness and hatred is the most corrosive element which can enter national life. It makes it impossible for a man or a country to think correctly or constructively and leads him to take decisions and commit acts which he would not dream of in sober moments. Often it even blinds him from seeing what he is doing to himself and others.
It is to be hoped that the shock of Dr. King’s assassination and stunning surprise of President Johnson’s withdrawal will contribute to a national awakening, to a recognition of how deeply the American people had allowed themselves to become mired in animosities. But the only guarantee of such an awakening is through a recognition of what hatred is and what it seeks to do. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, “Hatred inflames the brutal propensities.” But she also wrote, “Human hate has no legitimate mandate and no kingdom. Love is enthroned.” When men strive to prove these latter facts, the problems of race and the problems of war will be more quickly solved.