Saturday, May 14, 2011

The root of hatred is love

What makes us hate people? I don't know if I've ever given much thought to why I might hate someone. Maybe because it doesn't come up that often. Not to brag or anything, but there are very few people I hate. This isn't as virtuous as it sounds since it probably just stems from my need to be liked by as many people as possible. But still, it takes a lot for me to hate someone. Generally I find myself struggling with it when I encounter meanness. I can't handle mean people.

When I was a senior in high school I took Spanish-1 to fulfill the bare minimum requirement of language credits needed to graduate. What can I say? I am an over-achiever. I was one of the few seniors in a class full of lower-classmen. There was a girl named Jamie in our class who was severely autistic and beyond socially awkward. She was obsessed with Pokemon cards and carried around a huge binder of them, tucked away in plastic sleeves, everywhere she went. She was constantly talking about them, doodling them and trying to corner people into talking about them. For the most part, when the teacher was talking, she kept to herself and no one bothered her, but whenever we split off into pairs she would revert back to Pokemon expert mode. There was another kid in our class named David. David was your quintessential jock. Super buff, tan, good looking, popular with the ladies, and an all around douche-bag. He had a personal vendetta against Jamie and made it his goal to publicly embarrass her as often as possible. David was always calling attention to Jamie when she was just minding her own business. He'd point and laugh, usually bringing the rest of the class with him. I know this is awful, but I distinctly remember thinking, "This is the first person that I actually can't fathom Jesus loving." I didn't want to admit it to myself, but I hated him.

But why? Was it just the act I hated? What deep reason did I have for not only hating the sin but the sinner as well? Did I have a subconscious standard for him that he wasn't living up to? Maybe.

I've been reading through George MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons over the last month and recently I happened upon a possible explanation for my hatred. He suggests that maybe we hate because we know, deep down that inside every person is something worth loving, something we want to love, and when their actions cloud our vision of this truth, when they make it hard for us to see the loveliness they possess, we hate them for it.
"But how can we love a man or a woman who is cruel and unjust to us?-- who sears with contempt, or cuts off with wrong every tendril we would put forth to embrace?--who is mean, unlovely, carping, uncertain, self-righteous, self-seeking, and self-admiring?...These things cannot be loved. The best man hates them most; the worst man cannot love them. But are these the man?...Lies there not within the man and the woman a divine element of brotherhood, of sisterhood, a something lovely and lovable,--slowly fading, it may be,--dying away under the fierce heat of vile passions, or the yet more fearful cold of sepulchral selfishness--but there? Shall that divine something, which, once awakened to be its own holy self in the man, will loathe these unlovely things tenfold more than we loathe them now--shall this divine thing have no recognition from us? It is the very presence of this fading humanity that makes it possible for us to hate. If it were an animal only, and not a man or a woman that did us hurt, we should not hate: we should only kill. We hate the man just because we are prevented from loving him. We push over the verge of the creation--we damn--just because we cannot embrace. For to embrace is the necessity of our deepest being. That foiled, we hate."
If we were to realize the root of our hate, what would happen to our tendency towards war and violence?

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