“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Do you consider yourself a hater? I bet you don’t. Yet you just may be. I’ve noticed a lot of people on social media (and in social settings) that like to post/talk about how much we should love one another and how we need to stop the hate, who then turn around and spew forth their own hatred a few short hours (or even minutes) later. I’d love to think that they’re joking when posting/talking about how much they hate some person (or group of people). But alas, they aren’t.
What’s amazing to me is that they see nothing wrong with it – at all. They absolutely know what they’re doing and feel “justified” in their hatred. Think about that for a moment, because it’s truly frightening.
It seems that many are on board with loving one another so long as they talk in generalities or when they’re talking about specific people and groups that think just like they do. But when it comes to someone who thinks differently (especially in politics), the hate spews forth from a broken dam. Don’t they realize that loving one another requires us to truly love everyone – not just those who think and believe exactly what we think and believe? Unfortunately, given the social and political climate that we find ourselves in, I think that it’s worth having a discussion around hatred and why we shouldn’t allow ourselves to hate others.
Hatred is a disease. It spreads insidiously throughout the body and consumes it. When we hate, we allow it to have power over us. And pretending that this isn’t happening when we hate someone (maybe because we “only” hate “evil” or “bad” people) isn’t going to change this fact. Besides, it’s an excuse for not having to go within ourselves and look eye to eye with the ugliness that is hate. Hatred compromises our souls – no matter why we hate or who we hate (and no matter how deserving we believe someone is of being hated).
Hatred is also contagious. And it’s especially contagious when we justify our hatred. Often, we feel that it’s ok to hate someone because we believe them to be incredibly wrong about something – morally wrong. But once we go down this road it’s hard to turn back. It grows and corrupts us from within. And it corrupts how we see the world in general and our place in it. This breeds within us fear that’s difficult to move past – fear that triggers additional hatred. It’s a relentless cycle.
I get that some people are “evil” or “bad people” (although I’d argue that the clear majority of people don’t fall into that bucket). Guess what? I truly don’t care. My point is something else: hatred destroys the hater.
Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean that we must agree with people with whom we disagree. And it doesn’t mean that we must accept opinions that we feel are morally wrong. But there is a difference in disagreeing with someone (even vehemently disagreeing with them) and hating them. A huge difference. Hatred should never be the answer – not because the other person is necessarily worthy, but because you are (here’s where I get personal). You should love yourself enough NOT to hate. Because to love others, no matter who they are, means that you’re fully loving and honoring yourself.
So, how do you love someone you believe has views that are morally wrong? It’s simple. Because love is easy to give – especially when you consider what it truly means to love your fellow man. First, I’m not talking about loving them the way that you love your significant other, parent, sibling, best friend, etc. I’m also not talking about liking someone. Loving your fellow man does not require you to like them or their choices. It’s not an approval of them. What I’m talking about is having respect for them as fellow human beings – because we’re ALL imperfect and very human.
Human beings are complicated. Each one of us has bad qualities and makes mistakes. And each one of us has (or at least most us have) good qualities and do some wonderful things too. We have a lot in common. We love and want to be loved. We want to connect with our fellow man. This commonality is important to keep in mind. Yet, despite our commonality, we also are each different and unique. We each live within our own perception of the world based on very different lives and experiences – which is also important to consider.
If you step back and consider who you are (and are honest), you’ll admit that you’re also imperfect. We all are. Each one of us has done things that have been wrong in the past. And each of us has held an ugly or wrong opinion at one time or another. So, why not just think of that and respect the fact that others are the same as we are? Instead of getting on our moral high-horse, why not remember that we are also imperfect?
To hate someone is an active choice. We choose to hate. And we can choose to love our fellow man instead. So, ask yourself whether you’ve been experiencing some “justified” hate of others lately (and answer this question honestly). You may not like what you find – but you can change it if you so choose. My hope is that you’ll choose to love instead of hate. Because that would be the ultimate act of honoring yourself – and trust me when I say that you’re worth it.
Until next time…