Wealth Might Not Trickle Down but Hate Does

Pile of sugar

If you live in the United States, you are familiar with "trickle-down" economics. Republicans have favored this approach at least since Reagan. Tax cuts for the wealthy are supposed to be good for the rest of us. They are the "job creators," after all. More money for them means more job opportunities for us and a better economy for all.

What happens when wealth doesn't trickle down? The solution is always to elect more Republicans. We do because we are desperate to believe the myth. The sunk-cost fallacy kicks in, and we can't cut our losses now. More Republicans it is!

As you might have guessed, this one isn't about economics. The opening was a device to get you thinking about the trickle-down concept. Wealth might not trickle down, but there is something else that does in a reliable manner: hate.

It matters that so many Republican politicians are spewing anti-LGBTQ hate these days. Top-down messaging promoting racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and anti-secularism matters. We see a rise in hate crimes. We see efforts to ban books. Hate trickles down and infects the culture. It infects our daily lives.

It seems like this is happening with surprising speed, but there are two things to highlight. First, it seems that way because it is that way. Elected officials can and do normalize hate with surprising speed. We saw what happened when a president and several members of Congress began promoting hate. Once they signaled it was okay, it expanded almost overnight. Some of them are still at it.

Second, none of this is new. Hate has been here from the beginning. Hate of immigrants, hate of persons of color, hate of persons of the "wrong" religion. Some of the targets have changed, but it is the same hate. Many Americans are well-trained to hate those they perceive as different from them. It trickles down through our culture. It trickles down across generations.

It doesn't surprise us that many hateful parents create hateful children. Hate isn't something we are born with but something we learn. This is good news because it means that some of us can unlearn it. But we are still vulnerable to its effects, especially when it seems normal. It shapes our world.

As we grow up, many of us face great pressure to conform. Conform to what? We face pressure to conform to what others view as typical or common. This often includes hating the right people. Nobody has to instruct us on how to do this; they lead by example. Hate trickles down to us.

Some do break out of this destructive cycle. Wouldn't it be better for everyone if they didn't have to? Wouldn't it be great if there wasn't a destructive cycle in the first place?

This is one reason it is important to speak out against hate whenever we can. Doing so makes it seem a little less normal. It provides our audience with a sane alternative to hate. It shows others that they have options that don't include hate. This helps to undermine the efforts to create more hateful generations. It slows the trickle.

Here's one recent example of what this looks like: Letter to Mr. Donald J. Trump.

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