Ever wonder what hate is? I have. I’ve been there, too.
Hate, I think, is a place. A place we go to suffocate, to strain, to struggle; where we make ourselves feel like we’re accomplishing our highest good. A place of fire, of passion, of drive. That one location, we tell ourselves, that we can truly focus and wholly be.
You may think I’m being metaphorical, but I’m not.
How many times have I screamed in rage when I was alone? How many people have suffered by my words or my actions when I leave my self-inflicted isolation? What horrors have swirled around in my brain when I am so disconnected that I no longer think of others as whole persons, but a shadow made up of the worst things I think of them? It was when I was in “that place”, physically.
When I physically sat at my computer or my phone, focusing on angry discussions. When I sat stewing in my car, heaving my chest, broken by someone or something that contradicted me. When I lay in bed, surrounded by imagery and thoughts that encourage the worst impulses I can have. Hate required my whole being.
What is hate?
“Extreme feelings of dislike or disgust”. An anticlimactic definition for a word which carries so much weight. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a valid definition for a very valid feeling. It’s just so… clinical. Try this on for size: Hate is the feeling that someone or something is beneath me and deserving of my condemnation.
There we are!
We. Who, given the opportunity, will “dislike” the re-zoning of our neighborhoods to allow multi-family homes. Shown the suffering of someone who looks very much like us, will demand the homeless off our streets with no real help. Presented with pictures of people in their sexualized nakedness, will dismiss their humanity for our own personal pleasure regardless of their consent. Given the chance to help someone who looks different from us in our own city, will instead reach across the ocean to donate money and resources.
My worst hate came when my father had his stroke in 2001, roughly one month after the terror attacks on 9/11.
I had never seen a person physically dehumanized before. My abuser of 13 years was helpless, wordless, paralyzed, and on the brink of death. Not two weeks prior, he had tried to kill me again. It was pleasurable for me to see the one who had caused me so much pain experience so much suffering. I wished for his death so I would be rid of him. I was confronted by the Christian scriptures at this time.
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.
Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.Paul, The Letter to the Romans 12:14-21, New Living Translation
My extreme dislike and disgust of someone who could honestly deserve death wasn’t right.
It’s one thing to experience these feelings internally. I technically still have the emotion of hate for my father. I don’t think it’s wrong to have these feelings. However, others do not just experience the emotion from us; they experience what comes out of that emotion in our words and our action or inaction.
Just like love could probably be best described as an action we take towards others, so also hate manifests. When we go to that dark place, to swim and dwell in our hate, it manifests in the real world. It’s a real place we go to that results in real harm to others, even if it’s as simple as “strongly disliking” something we read on Facebook.
Because the manifestation of our feelings of hate is to dehumanize, tear down, and dismiss.
Let me tell you, maybe you think it will only hurt others; but what dehumanizes others also tears down us. Going to the place of my hate and manifesting it in the real world tears me down, too. It blocks my ability to love. It warps my vision of others as whole people.
It doesn’t matter if our hate comes from anger, fear, stress, or pleasure.
We’re not fully human when we hate.