Deeyah Khan is a documentary filmmaker that sits face to face in interviews with Islamic extremists, convicted terrorists, and members of the Neo-Nazi movement in America to understand what drives hate.
I listened to an interview Simon Sinek did with her a few months back, and it continues to stick with me.
I highly recommend listening to the podcast, their words are much more impactful than mine, but I’ll try to sum it up.
Hate is always driven by love or lack thereof.
The ones most likely to turn to hate or radical groups are looking for someone to love them, a group to be a part of, someone to listen to and show them they are heard.
Compared to our larger society, the groups teaching hate are much more willing to invest the time and effort it takes to make someone feel loved and safe. Eventually, they manipulate that love to convince them to commit horrendous acts.
As a society, we’re very good at telling people what they’re doing wrong but rarely offer a path for them to learn to do right, or any form of real love and listening in return. Rather than investing time to listen in the difficult conversations needed, we ostracize, shame, and push them to the fringes.
While Khan’s stories in the podcast are of the most extreme examples, listening first can be applied to everyday situations.
Something to ask yourself the next time you’re about to confront someone you strongly disagree with or have the urge to ridicule.
What are you offering that person instead?
Is it your love you’ll give? Will you invest the time it takes to make someone feel heard? Or will you be the one to call them an idiot, evil, or dumb and push them further towards hate.
If we want progress. It starts with love. It starts with listening.