Last night I watched “Death of a President,” a British-made “docu-drama” that imagines the lead-up to and aftermath of the assassination of George W. Bush. Overall, I found the movie enjoyable and thought-provoking â€” but this isn’t a movie review. I want to write about hating Bush.
The movie unfolds as Bush is coming to give a speech in Chicago, and the streets are filled with thousands of Bush-hating protestors. I thought the portrayal of the protestors was pretty accurate: a large majority of reasonable people out exercising their rights to speak out against a vile administration, peppered with a handful of individuals so crazy with anger that they seemed doomed to behave every bit as vile as Bush.
What struck me most as I watched the movie was how viscerally repelled I was by the demonstrators â€” the whole crowd, the reasonable and the anger-crazy â€” and by their overwhelming hatred for Bush. No matter how utterly justified it is, no matter how much damage Bush has done and how many lives, and whole nations, he has ruined, I just could not side with those consumed with such seething hatred.
This is something I’ve wrestled with for years. During the life of ThinkingPeace.com I’ve received a fair number of comments and emails lambasting me for being filled with Bush-hate. Typically, when I’ve looked back at the writing in question, I’ve considered it entirely reasonable and I’ve dismissed the comment/letter writer as a conservative troll. Though some surely were, I realize now that others just found my overt hatred for Bush repulsive.
So, what’s a basically decent, peace-thinking lefty to do?
On the one hand, George W Bush is a vile, despicably self-centered and self-serving little man who has done incalculable damage to this country and the world. And, just when you think he can’t sink any lower, he does or says something that has you screaming, “I HATE THIS MAN!!” louder than ever.
On the other hand, the emotional energy of hatred poisons the hater, and repulses everyone around him/her.
On the one hand, if we don’t forcefully stand up to tyrants like Bush they’ll only go on doing worse damage.
On the other hand, do we have any evidence of hatred working?
Let’s ask Gandhi what he thinks: “You have to be the change you want to see in the world.”
If we want less hate-inspiring leaders like Bush, first step is to be less hateful.
Doesn’t mean we like him, or agree with him, or will stop working to remove him. Just means we don’t give him the power to fill us with destructive energy.