Calling Audibles Part X: Dear Haters–An Open Letter
You don’t know me. And you might prefer not to get to know me. I might be a threat to one of your favorite past times: hating the football coach or player of your choice. Now you also might hate an Athletic Director or maybe even a Chancellor in the case of UNC football’s current situation.
I am pretty sure you know who you are, haters. Just in case, if you answer yes to one of more of these questions, you may indeed be a hater:
- You are a regular user or maybe even creator of a www. fire fill in the blank with a coach’s name .com website
- You boo your own team at games when they do something you don’t like.
- You have cheered when a player has gotten hurt before
- You use Twitter to criticize the coach or player you hate during games
- You participate in internet sports chat using a fake name and talk about the the stupidity of the object of your hate
- You regularly yell about how much you hate fill in the blank in stadiums, sports bars, and/or other places where sports fans gather
- You actually believe deep in your heart that you could do a better job than the object of your hate at their job. OR
- You believe your life would improve in quality if fill in the blank with name of a coach was fired.
The first thing I want to get straight with you, haters, is that I do not hate you.
In fact, I would really like to know more about you. Do you have a family? What kind of work do you do? How long have you been a football fan? What position did you play when you played football? Have you thought about going into coaching? What kinds of things do you enjoy doing? How do you feel when you get home from a football game? Do you tend to be angry at family members, co-workers, or neighbors, too, or is it just football coaches and players? Do you enjoy the hating or do you wish things could be different between you and fill in the blank of the coach/player you hate?
I know some in the football family who simply believe you are nuts. I, myself, believe in your full humanity. And I wish we could interact with each other on that basis.
I do not like hearing your hate, and I do not believe the things you say. You do not define what’s real and what’s not. I know there are those who know better. So, I don’t wish for a way to change your mind. But I do worry about your heart, your health, and your wellbeing.
Hate is poison. Hate is destructive. Being so filled with hate toward anything is like breathing in a little asbestos every day. The little dose won’t kill you, but the cumulative effect can be devastating. Hate literally hurts your heart—and I am talking about your physical heart—the one you are counting on to keep you alive every day. And hate isn’t good for your brain either—the one you need to help you navigate this big, sometimes confusing, always diverse world.
Hatred is a toxic emotion. It comes from a place of mistrust. It comes from a place of hatred itself. Hate breeds more hate. I sometimes wonder what the original source of your hatred is, haters. Have you been so hated? Were you raised on hate? Is there somewhere in the world where you have seen hate be an effective coping strategy? Where did your hate get its traction in your life? From whence does it come?
You should know, haters, that there was a time in my life when you all really use to get to me. I could feel the anger well up in me during football games when I would hear the venom being spewed. And I found myself thinking about all the things I would like to say to you to set you straight. I had statistics to quote. I had stories to tell. I’ll admit, I even had my fists clenched ready to swing a pretty good punch.
It didn’t take long for me to notice how much joy you were taking from me. It didn’t take long for me to realize that getting sucked in to your hatred is a black hole—a place with no substance, with no firm ground, with nothing but a vortex of diminished returns. So, I decided to let you have your hate. I decided to let go of caring about you and your distorted reality.
These days I am in another place I guess. I do not need to set you straight, but I still wish we could all find a better way to be. You see my life’s work is about healing. I have been on a healing path for much of my life. We all are really.
Mine has been a path that has traveled from my own experience of being raped as a teenager. There were many crossroads in my healing journey where I could have taken the road of hate—hate for my perpetrator, hate for all the people who stood by and watched things happen and didn’t help me, hate for a world where people are violent and so very brutal toward each other. As deep as my wounds are from sexual violence, the disease I would contract from turning to hate would be much more deadly.
I thank the loving presence of the Divine One who has walked along with me for keeping me from the ravages of hate. And that same One calls me to tell you, haters, that I bless you. Even when it’s hard, I pray for you. I forgive you for the hurtful things you say about people that I love and care about. And I want you to know that your hate does not define my world. I know the truth—you don’t get to define that for me. And I want you to know that I look forward to the day when your hate does not define your world either.
What if you haters called an audible of your own—what if you tried learning more about the sport you love and the person you hate? What if you stopped yourself the next time you were going to put your hate out there in the world and tried a play you may not have practiced much: enjoy the game and look for something to cheer about even when things are not going your way. That’s a formation that could change the world!
Peace to you,