Madelaine Zadik

Dear Hate

Who are you? Why are you? What are you so angry about? And what is your secret to having been able to hang on through millennia, finding willing or perhaps even unwilling servants to do your work?

You have been so successful in filling people with your poison venom that they don’t even realize that they have become your puppets, that you are controlling them. Or, maybe they do realize that they are not free, that they are chained by your commandments, but their efforts at revenge only backfire, becoming further tools of your design. Did you plan that out as well? Are you really so clever?

Maybe I’m assuming too much, attributing too much to some scheme I imagine you have in mind. Perhaps you are really tiny and frightened and are just blowing yourself up to look powerful or to make yourself feel better. But please explain how sending people to their death provides you with anything at all. Please explain how other people’s suffering brings you joy.

I foolishly thought that your power had diminished, that the world was moving forward, progressing if you will, that more people were experiencing freedom, that more people had enough to eat, that oppression was getting a bad name, that caring for others and helping people less fortunate was being recognized as a virtue, that a common understanding was developing about the value of democracy. I guess there simply is plenty of evil to feed your insatiable and ever-increasing appetite. Plus, you are an expert opportunist, discerning every possible opening in which to insert yourself, reproduce and clone yourself, and don the costumes that make you look so righteous. You have invited everyone to the gala—and who doesn’t want to party among the elite, be included in the story that puts one on top? How you have managed to turn everything on its head!

You have become a true expert in propaganda, once again using two of Goebbels essential rules:

  1. Just keep repeating the same lies over and over and over. Soon no one will remember they are lies.
  2. Keep the message simple, no complex or long sentences, which would be too hard to comprehend or repeat.

You must be so proud of what you are able to accomplish these days. Your efforts are definitely having an impact all over the world. Today refugees are being turned away at borders everywhere, others are being put in what are called “detention camps.” It all sounds and looks so familiar, but no one seems to remember or see similarities.

It all brings me back to the question of why you have been able to be so successful. How do you manage to get into people’s heads and win them over? Why are people so willing to join with you? What do they get out of the deal? Or what do they think they are getting? Or, what are they so afraid of if they don’t embrace your way?

Am I being naïve? Is it hopeless? Have you already won? Am I simply clinging to the notion that maybe if we throw water on you, we can make you dissolve, or if we pull back the curtain, we can make the truth not just visible but undeniable? Is there any possibility of carving out a different path for humanity, where you will be the starving outlier?

I try to cling to my Aunt Helga’s optimism that, “one day the world will be all right again,” as she said in her last message that she managed to send from the Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp. I think for a while I really believed those words, as I saw progress and some change, even if things weren’t yet perfect. I desperately want to believe that Helga’s work fighting the Nazis had some effect in this world, even if she had to pay for that with her own life (not to mention all the millions of others whose lives were stolen), but Helga’s optimism is failing me now. It seems to be fading. How do I not feel powerless and hopeless? How do I find the secret weapon, the Achilles heel, so I can be Helga’s warrior, channel her power and energy to defeat you now, forever?

Is it so silly to believe that love is more powerful and could actually save us from you and what you have done to humanity?

Madelaine Zadik lives in the wooded hills of western Massachusetts. A longtime botanic garden educator, she now devotes herself to writing. Currently, she is at work on a memoir about her relationship with her Aunt Helga, whom she never knew except through letters Helga wrote from prison in Nazi Germany. Her work has appeared in ConsequenceBeing Home: An Essay Anthology (Madville Publishing), Shark ReefDove Tales: A Writing for Peace Literary Journal of the Arts (in an issue on a theme of resistance), The Write Launch, Months to Years, theStill Point Arts Quarterly, Straw Dog Writers’ Guild Pandemic Poetry and Prose Project, Public GardenRoots, and is forthcoming in Pangyrus.