Sunday, December 4, 2016

Who Do You Hate?

I've been examining my own issues during these challenging times. Do I hate? Are there people I hate? What is hate, really?

The word is defined as "an intense or passionate dislike for (someone)." Well, I admit I have an intense dislike for people who are dangerously hateful. Does that mean I hate? I always thought to hate someone meant you dislike them so much that you wish them harm. I don't wish anyone harm. Does that mean I don't hate? Kind of tangled, isn't it? I think I fear those kinds of people, but do I hate them?

I hate behaviors. Do I then hate people who behave in ways I hate? My religion taught me to hate the sin but love the sinner. And I do that. I worked as a Sex Offender Therapist. I never hated my clients, in spite of the fact that they did terrible things to others, did things I hate.

I wonder if we don't confuse anger with hate. We get very angry and think that we hate the one we are angry with. But anger and hate are the same. I can get angry with someone I love. In fact, the more we care about someone the greater the chance for intense anger when they hurt us. Anger is a secondary emotion. It results from pain or fear. We feel angry when we are hurt - emotionally or physically. Thus, the cursing when someone hits their thumb with the hammer! It is fleeting, though, in that case. We feel angry when someone hurts us emotionally, resulting in name calling when you are insulted or betrayed. This, too, CAN be fleeting, if we don't hang onto the anger as a defense.

And we tend to be angry at what we fear. Not always, of course, but it does happen. And this kind of anger often looks like or becomes hate. Consider the fear of losing what you value when change occurs. For instance, the fear of immigrants taking jobs or getting violent, fear of that which we don't understand. It all gets very tangled, indeed.

So, how much of "hate speak" is really "fear speak"? The dictionary defines hate speech as "speech that attacks, threatens, or insults a person or group on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability." We've heard a lot of it lately. And when I think about it, it is often based on lack of knowledge about the person or group or on a fear planted by someone else that folks buy into. Like the anti-Muslim hate speech that tries to paint all people of that faith with the terrorist brush. 

We seem to refuse to acknowledge that the majority of terrorist attacks in the U.S. over the years have been by people who identify themselves as Christian. When violence is done in the name of religion in our country the perpetrators are churched folk. Consider the KKK, the neo-Nazi, and anti-gay activists. Then there are the people who shoot doctors who perform abortions and those who burn black churches.  And how much of that behavior is based on misplaced fear? 

Are you as tangled as I am about hate these days? What are your thoughts? Are you able to identify who you hate? I don't even want to hate. But do I?



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