Hate seems to be cropping up all over the place. It’s not just “those other people I don’t like” that seem to be full of hate, but people close to me. I’ve been paying more attention lately to how people use the word “hate” in conversation, and I’ve also been thinking hard about my own relationship to the concept of hating.
When people I know use the word “hate,” it’s rarely in reference to a specific person or other entity. It’s always a group. A friend’s son declared, “I hate snakes! All of them!” A close friend asserted, “I hate cops!” I’ve heard, “I hate Trumpers” and “I hate libtards” (actually BOTH in the same day).
Does that make people feel better? Does hate help them feel superior to a group? Or does it help vent feelings of being wronged in the past?
Upon closer examination, I would bet both these people don’t hate every individual snake, police officer, Trump fan, or me. It’s just that nebulous category that gets their emotional reaction. It’s hard to hate things or people you know as individuals. So I say.
I have a lot of trouble drumming up hate in myself. I’ve thought and thought and can’t come up with anything or anyone I hate. Am I suppressing it somehow?
How’d I get so smugly un-hateful?
Hey, I’m not smug. I’m not judging haters; I just don’t get it.
I credit this situation to my drive to get to know people/groups that bother me or I don’t understand. It started early, when I made the effort to get to know the workers in a factory where I spent three summers. They were very different from me racially, socio-economically, and politically. As we talked and talked, I could see how each of them got to be who they were.
Then in grad school I knew people from everywhere (that sort of happens in linguistics). I heard the stories about their countries, religions, and ethnic groups from them. They were different from me, but I was grateful to see our shared humanity coming through. Individual Arabs and Jews, Serbs and Croatians, Japanese and Koreans…all could respect each other, even if their societies weren’t fond of each other.
When I got all upset about how some Muslim societies treat women, I read and read books by women from those cultures, so I could see them as individuals and see that not all the men are the monsters I’d imagined. I did the same for fundamentalist Christians and their attitudes toward women, the poor, and agnostics like me, too. That led to much more peace in my heart.
Somehow, every time I hear anyone declare their hate, it feels like a stab to my heart. I just get a deep sadness for all the members of the hated group who don’t deserve the hate, who don’t fit the stereotype that engenders the strong feelings…I just don’t see that it’s a good idea to lump groups together like that.
What, don’t you have opinions?
Of course I disapprove of actions and beliefs that members of groups take. Who doesn’t? But I can’t blame the whole group for it. I can’t blame poisonous snakes for biting, either! It’s their job.
And there are some individual people I could do without being around. I can name at least three, hee hee. But you know what, that’s my issue to deal with, not theirs for being who they are. I don’t hate anyone. I just don’t have to be around people whose negativity, ignorance, or power-madness makes them hard to tolerate for long.
I need someone to explain what good hate does. Just like war, to me, it’s good for absolutely nothing. Say it again.