Part of the mystery is that hate seems so counterintuitive. In many situations, hate takes us to the exact opposite conclusion than that we would pursue from a non-hatred motivation. Who we choose to lash out at, and upon what provocation, makes no sense in the quiet reflection of the afterward.
We often choose to be on our best behavior with strangers, and reserve our wrath for the friends and family dearest to us. We spew hate and disdain onto whole groups of people for the transgressions of the few. We choose to hate people who look and act differently than we, based upon race, gender, economic status, or any other imaginable grouping; yet we make little effort to know any of them personally. (It is a lot easier to hate someone from a distance than when you know their name, see their face, and share a meal together.) When such hate grows and accumulates in numbers, then whole nations hate other nations. We fight wars among people who, at their core, have the same aspirations and goals as we have. The differences are only on the surface of style, culture, geography and heritage.
There are two forms of hatred that are the most baffling to me. One is religious hatred. Every major religion I know rebukes violence and hatred in an expectation to love and respect one another. Yet religious persecution, torture and violence have been with us for at least 2000 years ever since the Romans went after the Christians (though I suspect they really saw the Christians as more of a political threat than religious adversary). The wars that have been fought “in the name of God and our one true religion,” and the designation (in the eye of the beholder) and torture of “heretics,” has kept us in a continuing state of separation. It is a hatred from human frailties and ego that has little to do with God’s expectations. What mankind has done “for the glory of God” over the millennia and still to this day is frightening. It is the stupidest hatred in which we indulge.
The second most baffling hatred is when one discriminated group chooses to then discriminate against another. We might think that any group that itself has been a victim of unjust hatred and discrimination would thereby be the most tolerant of others. They who personally know the sting of injustice should be the most just to others, their pained hearts being the least willing to inflict pain upon others. Yet more often than not hatred overrules the heart. Those that feel hate often become the most hateful and discriminatory in a perverse form of revenge. When we do not have power over our life, in compensation we seize power over the even less powerful.
All of this is the human mystery to me. There is much hatred in our country and in our world today, surrounding us in much anger. There is no good argument to be for hate, even when we try to cover over and disguise our hate by spouting all kinds of noble-sounding intentions. Even as we disclaim the outcomes from our hateful actions. And even as we proclaim, “not me.” Indifference and denial from hate is no less harmful than violence born from hate. Thereby, the first step in eliminating hate is to recognize and acknowledge how it lives within each of us.
© 2014 Randy Bell