Hate Isn’t Helpful

So…. I sent out a tweet a few days ago about hate. It said basically that you don’t gain anything by hating and that the “hater” loses more than the “hated.” That’s it, it didn’t say anything about who hated, why anyone would hate, it mentioned no name, no race, no sexual preference, no political affiliations, nothing.

Immediately after sending it out, and I mean immediately, I started getting replies about how stupid liberal democrats are and how republicans make it hard not to hate. In short, I received a bunch of hate-filled replies agreeing that hate was terrible but blaming either democrats or republicans for making it impossible not to hate.

I’m going to guess here but I’m betting it was Republicans blaming Democrats and Democrats blaming Republicans.

Other people blamed gays for hate, or Muslims, or TV news, or cops, or blacks, or whites, it went on and on and on. Thankfully, there were some people who simply agreed with me. (There is hope!)

Really people! Really!

Has it come to that? Have we come to the point that the only way to deal with someone who has  views different from our own is to hate them?

Exhibit A (exhibit A is so strong that I won’t even present an exhibit B) is President Obama’s new Twitter account. He owned the record for gaining 1,000,000 followers faster than anyone else, at least until Caitlyn came along. That’s an official statistic, here’s a less official stat… his Twitter account also instantly became filled with more hate than any Twitter account in the history of Twitter.   

People actually tweeted stuff that immediately earned them a visit from the Secret Service. These people just couldn’t control their hate for the President long enough to restrain themselves from publicly displaying their bigotry. 

Now just so we are clear, I proudly voted AGAINST President Obama twice. Admittedly I pressed the pencil against the paper ballot a little harder the second time. I almost completely disagree with his policies and beliefs. I think he is taking the country in the wrong direction. 

But hating him for it is just backwards thinking. It’s also counterproductive. It accomplishes nothing. It does no more good to hate him than it does to hate anyone. As a person he seems like a guy who would be a lot of fun to hang out with. I’d bet he enjoys debating and justifying his positions. He just seems like a nice guy, a nice guy who is wrong (yes, I’ve considered the possibility that it could be me who is wrong but I got over that pretty quickly 😉) about a bunch of stuff but a nice guy just the same. I don’t like his positions and thinking but I kinda like him as a person.

There used to be a time when people, even good friends, could disagree and still remain friendly. The world was better then, the world made more sense. People could agree to disagree and go have a beer.

Today we seem to hate for the sake of hating, there is no middle ground, we either agree with someone or we hate them. We hate because of race, financial status, religious beliefs, nationality, the sports teams we cheer for, you name it, we can hate because of it. Folks, when a guy can nearly be beaten to death for cheering for the “wrong” team at a baseball game while dozens of other “fans” watch, we have a problem.

It’s just plain wrong. No one in the world gains a thing from hating another person. We are losing our humanity because of hate. We now seem to be blaming the people that we hate for causing us to hate. We accept no responsibility for hating, instead we place the blame on the hated. 

Now I know that not everyone hates and I don’t mean to say they do but these days more people than not seem to hate. That is not a good thing. That is most definitely not a good thing.

The great President Abraham Lincoln once said “I don’t like that man. I most get to know him better.”

Can you do what President Lincoln suggested? Can you postpone hatred long enough to give a person different from yourself a chance to prove their life, and viewpoint, matters too? Do you think it’s possible that we could ever return to the days when we “allowed” people who think differently than we do to exist without being hated. I realize hate has and always will exist but it’s really getting out of control. It affects every aspect of life. 

Hate is not sustainable, it will either destroy the hated or more likely, it will destroy the hater, but hate always eventually destroys. 

Hate is a choice, you can choose not to let it in your life or you can choose to embrace it and accept the consequences. Whichever you choose understand this fact; your responsible for your own hate, not the person you chose to hate. 

Maybe understanding that will make it just a bit harder to hate… maybe.

 

66 thoughts on “Hate Isn’t Helpful

  1. To me a big part of the problem is that people have been told that leadership is reserved for the elite. They’ve come to believe if they’re not in a sufficient position of authority the only option they have is to rebel against those that are. When they feel powerless they react with fear & hate instead of courage & hope. If we gave the responsibility for leadership to everyone as it should be and taught people how to lead effectively then they would be better equipped to resolve conflict. Thank you, Steve, for showing us how to Lead Today!

    • Thanks Daniel, I appreciate your thoughtful comment. I agree with you and would add that when people are offered the opportunity to make a difference by leading that they need to seize the opportunity. Too many people “hate” their own life but are not willing to accept responsibility to change it.

      I can only imagine that when you hate yourself you’re bound to pretty much hate everything else too.

  2. I do not doubt that hate is more easily published in this social conscious world, especially with all the handy tools at our finger tips. Yet, it seems we only see the present results of hatred and cannot see past (and ancient) hatred expressed as easily as today. Wonder what the next generation will experience, and see historically about us? Good post!

  3. Reblogged this on Michael Gurley and commented:
    This guest post has valuable things for the intelligent and spiritual person to consider. Branch away to Psalms 139 and consider David’s position on hatred, then his cry for evaluation from God.

    It is too easy to let ourselves express hate, but watch out that you first know your own heart! We are to be Godly. Is your expression like His?

    Blessings!

    • I think you’re right Tom, the media has indeed determined that hate sells! TV has become a kind of poison to our attitude. We DO need to remember that there is an off switch.

      Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it!

  4. What is very often overlooked is the indisputable fact that hate is NOT the opposite of love. Hate is a very powerful emotion and therefore is very, very close to love. The opposite of hate is indifference and how can anyone possibly be indifferent about something as important as our future as a country. So, until we become indifferent about policy and political issues, we will be passionate which leaves very little room for indifference.

  5. Bill S says:

    The issue is not “hate”. The issue is how raw emotions and feelings are so much more easily expressed in the age of social media. “Hate” has always been there. We are fallen human beings. Humans are not innately good. That is a fact that many refuse to recognize. When it becomes easy for the evil nature of humans to “leak out”, as with unrestrained, anonymous social media channels, the evil nature of humans becomes exposed. In the old world where human interaction was done in a way where you had to encounter your ideological “rival” face-to-face, the kinds of horrid statements that occur on Twitter (and that is, by far, the worse media for it) and other social channels did not happen. Certainly there were cases where extreme radical hatred happened (e.g. KKK rallies – and notice even THEY tried to maintain anonymity, Westboro Baptist Church, etc.), but they were few and far between.

    Social media has magnified the underlying, raw evil of humanity like an electron microscope.

    • Yep, there isn’t much doubt that Social Media “allows” the worst of humanity to show itself. I have to wonder how we slow that down, there doesn’t seem to be an easy answer.

  6. Beyond naming and describing “hate” – I deeply appreciate the affirmative encouragement offered here: to seek first to understand, to question first my own assumptions/ perceptions, to offer first the “benefit of the doubt” to others, to first be open to the possibilities, to first see with fresh eyes, to first hear without filters… reminds me of the encouragement and inspiration of others – past and present.

    Among many others – here’s some contemporary exploration on strangers (those different from us, whom we meet for the first time) and hospitality http://bit.ly/1BbmO5u – from my colleague @garancechoko – and a sobering, complex and inspiring story of resistance, hate, and “conversion” – http://wapo.st/1BboA6I

    • Wow, thank you for sharing those links. They show both what is possible and why it is such a challenge. I have believed for a very long time that there isn’t a person on earth I can’t learn something from, I only need to give them …. and myself, a chance.

      Thank you so much for making this a much better post, I truly appreciate it.

  7. There is an ancient Chinese proverb which says: “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will avoid one hundred days of sorrow.” I”m afraid in this day of immediate reactions via social media, we have forgotten to be patient in angry moments.

  8. An ancient Chinese Proverb says, “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will avoid one
    hundred days of sorrow.” In this day of immediate reactions via social media, we have forgotten to be patient for a moment before responding.

  9. Kirk M. says:

    I don’t disagree with your overall sentiment that hatred can be bad for individuals and society in general. Hatred, however, is as natural a human emotion as love. It is a response to an external stimulus, mostly in the form of a perceived threat. Consequently, it is deeply embedded in our fight or flight response, which often can be instantaneous. In that regard, there is value.

    • I am “afraid” of snakes and I will run from them. I may even say I hate them but that kind of hate does not destroy me and it doesn’t define me. Hate for another human being is a very different thing, it will destroy someone and like every emotion it can and should be controlled.

      Surrendering to it as a basic “normal” human emotion seems to me to be giving up hope that we CAN choose to deal with each other in a respectful way. I surely hope that is not true.

      Thanks for your comments, your thoughts on hate being a response to a threat is spot on, it would be very helpful if we were less threatened by those who look and think differently than we do.

  10. Michael McArdle says:

    In today’s society, hate is directly proportional to anonymity. If people knew the source of the vitriol, communities would vastly change.

    • I bet the people who threatened the President on Twitter learned a lesson on anonymity 🙂 But you’re right, when people know there is no shame they say the most incredible things…. so they must know hate is wrong???

      • Michael McArdle says:

        That is exactly my point Steve. There are gradient levels of hate that we temper because of social norms. The aforementioned vitriolic hate is best served anonymously. If we lose that anonymity, we “buffer” our comments with our intent — as if that were enough to offset the impact of our words. By announcing our lack of intent, we presume that lessens the impact of the delivery. “I’m not trying to be mean…” seldom assuages the feelings produced by the impact of the comment.

        The other annoying excuse people use when being mean is, “Hey, I’m just being honest.” As if honesty trumps kindness? In addition, your honesty may not be accurate — but people seldom recognize that. The people who post “hate” truly believe their view of the world is the legitimate view and every other view is a bastardized version of their “reality.”

        They, as John F. Kennedy once stated, “…enjoy the comfort of opinion, without the discomfort of thought.”

        But I’m not trying to be mean…:)

  11. I respect your opinion of President Obama’s policies, et. al., even though I definitely voted for him twice and would again, if I had the chance. What I respect even more is your willingness to call it like it is. Some things are just wrong, and hate is one of them. I, too, long for the days that you could disagree with someone without being subjected to vitriol. I’m going to share your blog post with as many folks as I possibly can. Thanks for showing true leadership in a world where there is sadly a dearth of it and justification for even the most heinous of words or actions seem to prevail.

  12. This is a great post, I will share this on my face book page. But as an additional comment I have recently published a book “How Did You Get Here?” One Black Man’s Journey through White Corporate America which talks about how “hate” as you define it cost several large organizations hundreds of millions of dollars. The perpetrators of the “hate” never stopped to think about what they were even doing; in most cases I believe that hateful reactions are automatic. On the other hand, Hanlon’s razor states: “never attribute to malice, that which can be explained by stupidity”.
    Most hate is just plain stupidity.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, you’re absolutely right about hate, it comes from ignorance. If we could just make ourselves stop long enough to realize how much damage hate does to the hater we might act and speak differently.

  13. JohnM says:

    “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
    ― Gautama Buddha

    Side note:

    I was shocked to hear from my kids in middle school how much and how harsh is the “sniping” in classrooms – if someone answers a question with the slightest inaccuracy or uncertainty, it draws fire from others. No mercy, no tolerance, no respect. And the teachers don’t do anything to reject and correct such bad behavior. So, this bullying and intimidation, fear tactics, are being engendered rather than overturned. No wonder “reactionism” is silencing the good people everywhere.

    Thanks for a really well-articulated article!

    • It sounds like we teach the beginnings of hate at a young age… I wish I was shocked but I’m not a bit surprised.

      It’s one more reason we need strong family units to teach kids what’s right at home and give them courage to carry it into the world.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  14. Jim says:

    Great post.

    It certainly seems as though the undecideds decide elections. When I see people spewing hatred, I wonder if they think they are winning people to their side…

    Not nessecaily related to my last comment, but there is a saying that goes, “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” Hate means you still are giving power to the object of your hatred…

    • Yes, the best way to get the better of a hater is indifference, just ignore them.

      Thanks much for your comment. The good news is I haven’t heard from one hater defending hate.

  15. TRCIII says:

    Nicely stated. I have a conversation that is some variation on this theme about once a week with someone on some blog or other, and I place much of the blame at the feet of the Hatemongers-in-Chief, the Op-Ed News Media. Nice folks like Sean Hannity, Piers Morgan, Rush Limbaugh, Anderson Cooper, Ann Coulter, Rachel Maddow, Glen Beck and Bill Maher seem to have to two objectives: 1) Boost their own ratings by being controversial; 2) Enrage and incense their own cult followers against the other team’s cult followers by blaming them for all of the world’s ills.
    Hiding behind the Freedom of the Press, they routinely play fast-and-loose with factual accuracy and, without a shred of journalistic integrity, they tirelessly work to pit Red State against Blue State, Conservative against Liberal, Democrat vs. Republican, Gay against Straight, Christians against Non-Christians, White against Non-whites, Minorities against Police…until the number of ways they have found to divide and polarize their followers seems to be endless. They fan the flames of hatred continuously on the airwaves, in print media and on the web; there are very few places one can go to escape the continual barrage of hatemongering from these people.
    Until folks can just stop watching the circus and turn off the noise, Americans will never feel like they can come together to cooperate and compromise to fix our very real problems, without being set upon by their own “side” as traitors to . These “Dividerati” are polarizing agents in a world which very much needs to put aside its differences and begin to heal.
    But then, that might result in a slow news day, and that would be unthinkable. How would they make a living without spewing hatred?

    • Geez you make a great point… before 24 hour “news” stations there was a lot less hate floating around. I’m all for freedom of the press it’s just too bad the “press” is a for profit industry. And I have a new favorite word thanks to you, Dividerati!

      • TRCIII says:

        Enjoy the new word, and please feel free to share it freely. 🙂 And it’s not just them; they’re just the most visible and consistent offenders. The amount of pure vitriol in ALL of the media (online, print, radio and TV) versus straight-up reporting or suggestions for constructive compromise is horrifyingly lopsided.
        I used to think all of the negativity in the media was a symptom of our divided times…until I realized it was actually one of the prime causes of the division(s).
        Because, although sex sells, so does hate, and it’s easier to create and deliver, longer lasting and self-sustaining. The fact that it’s ultimately destructive is irrelevant to the hatemongers, since they benefit from it directly with higher ratings, more subscriptions, and increased clicks–all translating to money in their pocket. So they continue to sow the seeds of hate and those seeds continue to grow and spread like fire until reasonable people take a stand to reject the hate and douse those flames.
        Thanks for being a voice of reason. 🙂

    • JDCloud says:

      As to Bill Maher, it is difficult to see him mentioned in same sentence as the others, as his political discourse is done with a healthy dose of humour. Further, Mr. Maher often questions the legitimacy and positions of those that share his overall political points-of-view, and it certainly is healthy for people to be able to laugh at – and question – themselves and their opinions. Finally, Mr. Maher invites discourse on the topics of the day through regular discussion with people on all sides of the issues. Unfortunately, I do not see the same approaches being taken by some of the others noted in the list of media personalities mentioned above.

      • That a great point, I think you could say much of Bill Maher’s commentary is tongue in cheek, he certainly doesn’t take himself too seriously. Many other commentators are so locked into their opinion that they seem to feel the need to attack those with differing views. Maybe that’s not hatred but it sure looks and sounds like it.

        In my experience, if it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck and swims like a duck it’s a duck.

      • TRCIII says:

        If we were talking about Jon Stewart, Dennis Miller or or even (arguably) Stephen Colbert, I would agree with you. They often deliver a very pointed case of “social commentary” mixed heavily with a dose of humor. But I have seen Bill Maher do straight-up political commentary (he’s listed as a “political commentator” in his bio)–just like the others–and I have seen him shout down the opposition he’s invited onto his show. And that’s when I stopped watching him. Maybe he’s a “kinder, gentler” version of himself these days, but I don’t count him a force for reason, compromise or positive change. It’s just where the others in my Dividerati list hide behind the auspices of “news” he hides behind the veil of “comedy”.
        But, like Stephen Keating said above, I believe he’s cut from the same cloth.

  16. Susan Sisson says:

    I’m a liberal Democrat, and I think Democratic Socialism is “Government by the people, of the people, and by the people,” views that might be completely contrary to your general point of view, but I COMPLETELY AGREE with you on the words and the spirit of this column. Thank you for posting it! All best wishes for your continued (reasoned) success!

  17. What a GREAT write-ups!!! Hate just takes up WAY too much energy! It’s EXHAUSTING! I hated someone once. My X-best friend, when I disçovered he and my wife were having an affair. I hated him every second of every day as he became my son’s step-father after my wife left me for him. I hated him every second, every day for three long years. Then, one day, through my THICK skull, I realized he didn’t care. Not one bit. I hated him, and he could give a shit. And, while he didn’t care, I just gave him total permission to run my life every second of every day for three freaking years! I let hate rule me, and it made me into a bitter, nasty person obsessed on revenge. And, he didn’t care. I stopped hating him right at the moment the bulb flickered on in my dimwitted brain. Hate gets you know where. The person you hate probably doesn’t like you, and would never want to be around you anyway because the hate has turned you into a bitter and nasty ass. Hate wears you down, and makes you look ugly. So, move on and get over it. Enjoy life, and get along. You’ll live longer!

    • Thanks for sharing your story. Everything you say is absolutely correct, hating someone else is like turning your life over to them. You stew in your own anger while they go merrier along.

      You’ve learned a tough lesson but you’re way ahead of many people who never learn it at all.

  18. Reblogged this on Theological Reflections and commented:
    I definitely agree with this author’s thoughts regarding the destructive influence that hatred has amassed within our already-fractured world. Sadly, hatred has become increasingly more and more prevalent in this day and age. Having said this, I am genuinely concerned for what is on the horizon for this generation in light of this progressively destructive and detrimental trajectory that hatred is actively following.
    Roman 12:21 tells us the solution to this dilemma by instructing us to, “…not be overcome by evil, but [to] overcome evil with good”.
    May the Lord bless us all as we fight the good fight by seizing every opportunity while striving to make a difference!
    Also, please help us to keep our eyes on Your Son: Jesus Christ, Who is our Living Hope, where we are made completely secure and anchored by means of Your unfailing love!
    In Jesus’ Name I pray,
    Amen.

  19. JohnM says:

    After leaving a comment above, I spent a lot of time thinking “OK, we know hate is destructive. So what’s the antidote? If we decide to not hate, what are we doing?”
    One comment above mentions prayer, and I don’t disagree. But for our brothers and sisters who don’t necessarily “pray”, what’s their option?
    Two thoughts come to mind:
    1. If hate is a reaction to a perceived injury, then we can overturn the thought of injury with a knowledge of our wholeness and completeness, despite what others have done.
    2. We can overturn the perception in the first place by “un-seeing” the hurtful action. This takes forgiveness. This was the most difficult lesson I ever faced, and my life has changed 100-fold for the better once I was able to forgive.

    The amazing thing is that, 15 years after the “hurt”, I can barely remember the injury. It’s as if the result of forgiveness is a “complete pardon” – as if the action never took place. (Not like “we’ll seal the records”, but more like “the record has been completely deleted”.) What injury?

    I think a root cause of hate is “taking offense”, whether or not it was ever intended. When we make ourselves and our “feelings” more important than love, we are headed to a dark and rocky place.

    So, gee! Maybe the Golden Rule is the way out of hate’s hell-hole!

    Love more. And when you think you’ve done enough – love MORE!

    All the best,
    -JohnM

    • Thanks John, it would be an interesting study to determine why one person is “hurt” by something when someone else isn’t. I suppose that’s why some people find it easier to forgive then others.

      What is certain is that hate is a heavy burden to carry. Your point about being offended even when no offense was intended makes hating even more senseless… the hated might not even know they are hated while the hater is destroying themselves.

      The golden rule sounds like a good plan to me, maybe with a twist – don’t hate others if you wouldn’t want to be hated yourself… 😀

      • JohnM says:

        I like that twist – makes things pretty clear.

        I differentiate between “being hurt” or “being offended” and “taking hurt” or “taking offense”.

        It’s really hard to “be” offended if one doesn’t “take” the word or action as offensive. All the justifications for explaining why I can be offended by something and you cannot, are all arguments of over-inflated “personal sense”.

        One could say that being aware and sensitive to potential harm is part of our defense-mechanism; “I won’t let myself be hurt that way again.” But when that sensitivity goes beyond reason, every little thing can be seen as possibly damaging, and our defense reaction is unleashed when it is actually unnecessary.

        Hmmm, so maybe listening skills come into play, too? Am I hearing what’s really being said, or am I reading into it?

        Steve, I’m enjoying this exchange, and would love to continue. It’s a very provocative topic, and I’m sure that good will come out of it. I appreciate the opportunity to share thoughts like this with you!

        AND… I’ve got to turn my focus to work…

        So long for now!
        -JohnM

  20. Excellent article, and one with which I largely – and perhaps entirely – agree. (I almost never agree *entirely* with something, so please don’t take that as some subtle criticism.)

    I think part of the problem is that for political and rhetorical reasons hate has been “defined down” to the point that simple disagreement about a topic people feel strongly about is referred to as “hateful.” I don’t mean that as a partisan statement, as I think all political flavors have people that do this. (I tend to think those on the other side do so more than my side – but I may well be biased in that opinion. It’s also possible that “hate” becomes their buzzword, while my side has some other – equally disagreeable – method of minimizing the opposition’s positions.)

    If something is “hateful,” then it doesn’t need to be dealt with as a topic worthy of serious debate and we can simply dismiss the “hater.” Unfortunately, once we define our political/philosophical opponents as “haters” rather than the more human “people who disagree,” two unfortunate things happen. First, it becomes easy for people on both sides of the argument to slide toward actual hatred. (After all, it is much more “normal” to hate “the other” than somebody who is much like me, but with whom I disagree.) Second, whether people slide toward actual hatred or not, much of the legitimate and honest disagreement winds up being filed under “hate” for purposes of the debate.

    • Indeed, when we define even simply disagreement as hatred I think we kind of make it even easier to hate, as if hate is “normal.”

      I do think some media escalates a simply disagreement into hate as a way to gain ratings, that is not at all helpful either.

  21. WandaM says:

    Hate corrodes the souls of those who hate. True. I don’t know where I read this, or from whom it originated, but I have used it many times when trying to convince someone to let it go.

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