In defense of hatred.

Image from scientificamerican.com

Hatred is a feeling we all experience, and feelings are facts. As with any other feeling, justification pays its due: hatred can be “justified” or not. To distinguish hatred, set it apart as a isolated feeling, different and/or worse than all the rest, is a cop-out. To deny it as a feeling is foolish and, frankly, impossible.

But we’re told that hatred is BAD-BAD-BAD. Don’t be a hater, we’re told. Only bad people hate. Everyone from Jesus to Gandhi to Yoda told us so. We’re only destroying ourselves by hating, we’re told ironically by Richard Nixon. We’re told, in fact, to hate hatred. Even Bob Dylan sang that to us: “While others don’t hate nothing at all, except hatred.”

While we all link arms in a field full of sunflowers and sing “Kum-Ba-Yah.” Groovy.

Hatred gets a bad rap, I think. Recently I remembered some distant experiences that led me to feel great hate. I genuinely thought I had left that hatred behind me, that I had “put paid to it,” that I had plumbed the deepest depths of what I felt. Yet, during one deep dark searching night of the soul, I discovered that I hadn’t lost my old friend hatred yet. I wasn’t proud of that, but surprisingly I wasn’t ashamed of it either.

We have, for no good reason, become extremely quick to pounce on and condemn hatred. But there is a great deal to be said for an emotion without which we would be profoundly lost. We give hatred such a bad press because of the high esteem in which we correctly hold love. But the inclinations toward both are by no means mutually exclusive; quite the contrary, they feed off and are dependent upon one another. Love would mean nothing were it not for our acute awareness of hatred, just as light would mean nothing without the presence of darkness.  – Ralph Jones

Consider hatred as our psyche’s attempt to regain our equilibrium and inner peace. When something disturbs our tranquility, we become agitated. We want what is disturbing us to disappear, go away, not exist, or die. Hatred is blocked or frustrated anger. Hatred is our attempt to get back to our inner peace. By “inquiring within” and following the clues that our feelings of hatred provide, we can find where in our lives we feel powerless. With this insight, we might be able to find new ways to reclaim our power. This does not mean acting out our hatred. It is about not rejecting our feelings, but dealing with them skillfully and using them as a tool for inner understanding. –  Marla Estes

You cannot rationalize away the need for justice and proper judgment of others for their actions by saying, “Hate is mean and you become the enemy if you engage in it.” That’s beyond ridiculous. If what you’re really trying to say is, “Don’t let those who hate you destroy you,” then that’s certainly good advice. But you don’t keep hateful people from destroying you by pretending that you love them, or by giving them back anything other than what they deserve. – Dr. Michael Hurd

The feeling of hatred probably has an evolutionary basis.  Some theorize that hatred served some primal purpose: it might have helped our ancestors decide whom to confront or scorn, and thus promoted the security of the group and the survival of the species.

Hatred can’t be a bad thing; we all experience it. Feelings aren’t “right” or “wrong”: they just are. What matters is what we choose to do with those feelings. Part of the reason people object to hatred, I think, is because they want to protect the possible targets of that hatred; more specifically, protect them from the behaviors that may follow from it. (Especially toward their own bad selves.)

I think hatred can be a good thing when it catalyzes and mobilizes us to eliminate the negative from our lives. When it acts as an impetus to take matters into our own hands and solve a problem. Hatred can be a positive emotion when it forces us to improve ourselves, our circumstances, and the world around us. A good gardener must not only love his flowers and vegetables; he must also hate weeds.

Hatred is an emotion. It’s not good or bad. Don’t hate hatred. Hate injustice. Hate hurtfulness. Hate ignorance. Hate lies. Hate exploitation. Hate indifference. Hate apathy. But hate them enough to do something about them. Change the world, or change yourself.

Or else sing along with me: “Kum-ba-yah, my Lord… kum-ba-yah…”

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