“Honestly, to those who thought you were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it – and now I’m really burning so bright right now.”
These were the words from Coco Gauff after winning the US Open Women’s Championship. A moment of great celebration, on top of the world, and yet it was clear that it was important for her to let all the ‘haters’ know that rather than squelch her passion they fueled it.
On the one hand it is hard to imagine why anyone in the world would cast aspersions on a 19 year old athlete who works tirelessly to accomplish her dreams. Yet clearly there are those in our midst (especially online) who find it necessary to respond negatively to someone passionately pursuing their aspirations.
What is the motivation of ‘haters’? Some suggest envy or jealousy is the culprit when the negative, bullying, intimidation bombs start dropping on those who have gained a certain level of success or notoriety. However, hating behavior is not just reserved for the rich and famous. Those who differ because of race, religion, political leanings, or just a particular opinion on a given topic are often the target of hate-speak.
Even those who have been accused or have allegedly done something wrong can quickly be sucked into a virtual vortex of hate by people who know neither the person nor the actual facts. A poignant quote in this arena comes from author Ziad Abdelnour, “Always remember… Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots.”
I really appreciate Coco’s response to the haters. For many of us in those situations our innate response is to be reactive and to hate back. She chose instead to use the hate coming toward her for even greater good. Or as poet Amanda Gorman articulates,
“Thus while hate cannot be terminated, it can be transformed into a love that lets us live.”
This is our choice, to respond in kind to the haters or transform the hate into love.
“Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won.” John Lewis
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you…