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Section 1: FOCUSING ON GOODNESS

 

HATE VS. GOODNESS

Our Struggle between the Two

 

You and I are being exposed to more hate than at any time in history. On a daily basis we encounter multiple shootings/killings in our towns/cities, dozens of derogatory comments by our politicians, and lots of take-a-shot texts by friends and acquaintances. We may not notice it, but this abundance of hate is taking its toll on you and me as well. If we don’t stop and think about what is happening and get to work to increase the level of goodness coming from our lives, we are likely to become “just another hater” who does little actual good with their life.

Hate has caused a lot of problems in the world, 
but hasn’t solved one yet.

Maya Angelou

Hate Is Doing “a Number” on Us

 

We worry about a lot of things that might happen in the future, but we don’t seem to be that concerned about the hate that is destroying our country today. We worry about climate change and its long-term implications, but we don’t seem willing to address the “hate crimes” and drive-by shootings that are taking place in our cities every day. We point out politicians who we think are leading us in the wrong direction, but we don’t seem willing to look inside ourselves to determine how hate is causing us to say or do improper things.  We readily accept the hateful texts that come our way each day and often “join in the fray” with like responses.

aborting goodness, being honest, better deeds, better living, better words, caring for others, choices and goodness, Chris Pepple, feeling it, God’s Spirit, good choices, good deed, good words, guided by goodness, hate vs. goodness, helping others, kindness matters, life lessons, little things count, Living with Goodness, Michael Nelson, personal development, personal growth , personal reflection, self improvement, activating the goodness in your life, label less love more, value the person you are, beating the odds, finding your life’s purpose, being a good example, one of the least among us.

We seem to think we have a right to hate. We seem to believe that we can be the “judge and jury” about anything or anyone who comes within our mental target range. It can be about one of our family members or close friends or someone we don’t even know thousands of miles away. We don’t really care; if we don’t like what someone is saying or doing…or even what they look like for that matter…we won’t hesitate to pull out our hate gun and fire away.

Because hate takes place almost entirely within us, there is no “hate cop” to pull us over and give us a ticket so that we will

remember to slow down and do better next time. As a result, we tend to offer expressions of hate as substitutes for doing the harder job of improving our understanding of the person or circumstances involved. If we aren’t careful, hate can cause us to make some very bad choices and to use our life to the detriment of others.

By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; 
by its very nature, love creates and builds up. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And Hate Seems to Be Everywhere

 

Unfortunately, our hate problem is not getting better. It is, in fact, getting worse and can now be found in almost every facet of our lives.

…in online exchanges

 

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 41% of Americans have been personally subjected to harassing (“hateful”) behavior online, and an even larger share (66%) have witnessed these behaviors directed at others. Further, a majority of Americans (62%) view online harassment as a major problem. Clearly, when people can hide their identity online, their willingness to curb their hate toward others diminishes significantly.

…in our schools

 

Bullying, which is an expression of hate, is a significant problem in almost every school. More than 160,000 children skip classes each day because of the fear of being bullied. According to bullyingstatistics.org more than 40% of children have been bullied online. According to the Bureau of Justice School, 46% of males and 26% of females have been victims of physical bullying by other students. No question, unbridled hate is resulting in physical attacks and harassment toward many of our young people today.

…in our country

 

Hate crimes are defined as "crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity," according to the Hate Crime Statistics Act passed by Congress in 1990. Hate crimes can be committed against people, property, or society and can include violent attacks and robbery, as well as arson and vandalism. The FBI reported 7,120 incidents of hate crimes in 2018 (the most recent data available), up from 5,479 incidents in 2014. Clearly, severe hate is on the rise in this country.

…in our politics and our media

 

From 2016 to 2020, the U.S. President “took verbal shots” at anyone with whom he disagreed and reinforced his sentiments with “got cha” tweets at any hour of the night or day. Other politicians don’t hesitate to say hateful things about someone who sees things differently from the way they do. Media personnel repeat such hateful comments, often embellishing them to give them more bite, and broadcast them 24/7. James Antle III writes this on the subject: “…there is a sickness in our political climate. Nearly two decades into our status as a 50-50 country, split into red states and blue states, many people on both sides of the political divide have literally begun to hate each other.”

…and in you and me

 

Let’s be honest here…you and I are part of the hate problem as well. Whether it’s a neighbor who doesn’t keep his yard mowed, a family member who rather consistently rubs us the wrong way, or someone at work who takes credit for an idea that’s not truly theirs, we can quickly muster thoughts of hate about someone near us and nurse those hateful thoughts for an extended period of time. Each and every one of us needs to do better.

In short, the hate train has left the station and is winding its way through every town and city in this country boarding more and more people with hate in their heart about something or someone. We’ve got to find a meaningful way to slow this hate train, maybe even stop it altogether, so that those on board can get off and find ways to replace their hate with words and actions that will improve their lives and the lives of those around them. Yes, it’s hard to stop a train, but the better we understand how hate works, the better the chance we have of turning down the hate volume coming from our lives.

Hate Is a Choice

 

There are a zillion reasons “why” people hate…

…political differences,
…sexual orientation or preferences,
…racial differences, 
…envy of success or good fortune,
…inappropriate personal conduct, 
…offending words or statements, 
…personality differences, 
…clothing or electronic possessions,
…and on and on we go.

But to truly understand hate and how it works, we must look beyond things or circumstances like those listed above. Instead, we must look at ourselves and what’s going on inside of us. For it’s not these “things” that are causing us to hate, but rather our inability to control our reaction to them. In effect, hate is an internal choice we make in reaction to something that we find challenging or offensive in some way.

The one good thing about the fact that hateful moments are really choices is that we can coach ourselves to “stay in neutral” and make a better choice…a choice to conduct ourselves in a better, more mature way. Not a choice to necessarily agree with the person or circumstance that triggered our hateful condition, but rather a choice to respect others as individuals with a different view when we encounter one of these “hate-fueling” moments. By doing so, we stop the hate train and give ourselves the opportunity to get off and move beyond our hateful feeling to something much better.

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, 
or his background, or his religion. 
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, 
they can learn to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.

Nelson Mandela

How Do We Stop Hate?

 

Stopping hate is a worthwhile objective, right? But how do we actually do it? How do we minimize, hopefully eliminate, the expressions of hate that seem to fester within us as we go about our daily lives? This may be one of the most important questions we ever ask ourselves. So, it’s important that we take some time to consider not only our answer to the question, but, beyond that, what we can actually do to reduce or eliminate hate from our lives.

We offer you three suggestions as you work to better understand how to reduce the hate coming from your life. Remember, a few paragraphs ago we pointed out that hate

aborting goodness, being honest, better deeds, better living, better words, caring for others, choices and goodness, Chris Pepple, feeling it, God’s Spirit, good choices, good deed, good words, guided by goodness, hate vs. goodness, helping others, kindness matters, life lessons, little things count, Living with Goodness, Michael Nelson, personal development, personal growth , personal reflection, self improvement, activating the goodness in your life, label less love more, value the person you are, beating the odds, finding your life’s purpose, being a good example, one of the least among us.

takes place inside or within us. Therefore, if we’re going to “fix our hate problem,” we have to focus on what is going on inside of us. As you work to live in a less hateful way, we suggest that you think about and reflect on these three things:

1. Reflect on the Goodness within You…

 

We suggest that you start your personal eliminate-hate process by reflecting on the term “goodness” and where this internal ingredient comes from. Almost every one of us…at various times…feels a desire to help someone in some way: to say something, to do something, or to take some action that will improve someone’s life in some way. In short, such feelings are the very opposite of hate. So, stop and ask yourself: Where does our motivation to “do something good” for someone come from?

In our case, we believe that God’s Spirit (the Spirit of Goodness) lives in each and every one of us and works in the world through people…individuals like you and me…to help those in need improve their lives in some way. Whether it’s the doctor who works to develop a much-needed vaccine or the neighbor who takes dinner to the elderly shut-ins down the street or the teacher who doubles her efforts to help the young man understand the math problem, we see such helpful actions as God “at work” to help people have better lives. One way to define or label these helpful actions is with the term living with goodness…which, in our view, means teaming up with God’s Spirit within you to make the world a better place.

Whether you have ever stopped to think about this or not, you have a role to play in helping “spread the goodness” to those around you. You’re not here to hate; you’re here to make your family, your friends, your community, and the world better in some way. And, yes, we believe that God’s Spirit is here working through individuals like you and me to spread goodness to as many as possible.

“Okay,” you say, “but I see lots of people who aren’t exactly spreading goodness with the life that they are living.” Very true, and why is that? It’s due to the choices that they are making. In other words, our choices are so powerful in framing and forming our lives that they can actually tone down and in some cases completely “push out” the goodness that lives within us. 
 

Managing the power of choice,
with all of its creative and spiritual implications,
is the essence of the human experience.
Choice is the process of creation itself.

Caroline Myss

2. Reflect on the Goodness in Others…

aborting goodness, being honest, better deeds, better living, better words, caring for others, choices and goodness, Chris Pepple, feeling it, God’s Spirit, good choices, good deed, good words, guided by goodness, hate vs. goodness, helping others, kindness matters, life lessons, little things count, Living with Goodness, Michael Nelson, personal development, personal growth , personal reflection, self improvement, activating the goodness in your life, label less love more, value the person you are, beating the odds, finding your life’s purpose, being a good example, one of the least among us.

 

While this might be hard to accept, the target of our hate…the person(s) who said or did something that triggered the hateful feeling within us…has goodness within them too. Like you and me, God’s Spirit is at work within them to motivate them to do good and helpful things for others as well even if their current choices don’t reflect this. Therefore, we should always be ready to temper our reactions to individuals with whom we disagree in order to make way for the goodness to come forth, now or in the future, from their lives.

The point—in effect, yielding to someone with whom we disagree—is always difficult to implement, but keep in mind

that you and I could be the one who is wrong, who is seeing or believing things in the wrong way. By controlling our hate and not allowing ourselves to overreact to something, we create an opportunity to learn, to grow or, in the very least, to better understand the words or actions (“choices”) coming from the other individual(s).
 

Life becomes easier and more beautiful 
when we can see the good in other people. 

Roy T. Bennett

3. Reflect on the Need for More Goodness in the World

As we pointed out earlier, there is a tremendous need for more goodness in this world. In our online exchanges, in our schools and businesses, in our politics, in our media, and in you and me, this world needs more love and goodness on the part of everyone, no exceptions. And, while we might not have the power to go out and “change the world,” we do have the power to show more love for one another and, as difficult as it may be, to eliminate the hate in our lives.

Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated, but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it.

Pablo Casals

A Small Amount of Goodness Can Make a Big Difference

 

As stated previously, we believe that we come into this world pre-equipped with the Spirit of Goodness. We didn’t ask for it, we didn’t request it, but it is within us nevertheless. However, it’s up to us—and the specific choices we make—to determine whether that Spirit of Goodness will become an active part of our lives and motivate us to help others in some special way. 

In researching acts of goodness for this lesson, we found literally hundreds of really great examples that we could have used here, including:

…the man who missed his train to help the elderly lady with her bags so she could catch hers, 

…the woman who secretly bought the stranger a set of badly-needed truck tires that he couldn’t afford, 

…the person who gave his Kindle to the homeless man who had been reading the same book over and over again, 

…the cleaners with the sign, “If you are unemployed and need an outfit cleaned for an interview, we will clean it for free” and 

…the store employee who bent down to tie the elderly shopper’s shoe so he wouldn’t trip and fall, to name a very few. 
 

aborting goodness, being honest, better deeds, better living, better words, caring for others, choices and goodness, Chris Pepple, feeling it, God’s Spirit, good choices, good deed, good words, guided by goodness, hate vs. goodness, helping others, kindness matters, life lessons, little things count, Living with Goodness, Michael Nelson, personal development, personal growth , personal reflection, self improvement, activating the goodness in your life, label less love more, value the person you are, beating the odds, finding your life’s purpose, being a good example, one of the least among us.

However, there was one act of goodness that seemed to stand out among all of these. It was a very poor man, who had almost no worldly goods himself, who stopped his old bike, got off, walked over and gave his sandals to a young homeless girl who had no shoes. I thought to myself, “If that poor man could do that, surely we can find ways to reveal the Spirit of Goodness within us by making choices to help those in need.” May it be so…with you and me.

Hate vs. Goodness

 

Hate vs. goodness…you have to work at managing which of these two will be the larger influence in your life. And remember…one always pushes out the other. In other words, the more hate you harbor within you or exhibit toward others, the less “room” you will have for goodness in your life. The more you reveal hate…in your words, deeds, or your confidential thoughts…the less you will be inclined to partner with the goodness within you to help others in some special way. You have to make the choice—whether you are going to be a person who allows hate to be present in your life or, instead, a person living with goodness and making a conscious effort to help others as you go about your daily life.

aborting goodness, being honest, better deeds, better living, better words, caring for others, choices and goodness, Chris Pepple, feeling it, God’s Spirit, good choices, good deed, good words, guided by goodness, hate vs. goodness, helping others, kindness matters, life lessons, little things count, Living with Goodness, Michael Nelson, personal development, personal growth , personal reflection, self improvement, activating the goodness in your life, label less love more, value the person you are, beating the odds, finding your life’s purpose, being a good example, one of the least among us.

We wrap up these words about goodness with one last point. You have a very important role to play in your family, in your community, and in the world today. You may not have given that role much thought, but you are here for a reason. You have certain interests, motivations, and abilities that not only make you a unique individual but also point you to your “calling” and what you are intended to do with your life.

While finding your way to what is intended for you is no easy task, we can assure you of one thing: You will never find your true role in life through hate. It is only by living with goodness that you will become equipped to make this final determination.

Find the goodness that is already within you.

Eckhart Tolle

Questions/Discussion Points

 

1.

To what extent has hate “raised its ugly head” in your life and caused you 
to say or do something you now regret? Give one or two examples.

2.

When was the last time you made the choice to do something helpful for someone?
Was this a frequent or infrequent activity for you?

3.

Can you feel a motivation within you to be helpful to others in some way?
If so, how will you respond to this feeling in the future?

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