Some of you took my post On Hate to say that I don't think we should have any opinions, which would be ironic since it was a very opinion-y post! I definitely think we should have opinions. And discussion. And feelings. And investigation. And disagreement. But can't we have those things without hatred? While writing Palace of Stone I researched and thought a lot about Rhetoric, when discourse is productive, when it isn't, what rules for good discourse are, and where we are today. I feel like we've almost given up on any hope of civil disagreement and discourse, and I don't want to.
The confusion re: my post may just be due to a lack of clarity on my part, but I wonder if some of it is our tendency to link passion and strong emotions to hatred, and that without passion, ie hatred, we can't have opinions. We might think of hatred as a natural extension of a strong opinion, as if our opinion can't be really passionate and powerful without hate.
I'd like to question that assumption and posit, Hey, how can we make this whole life experience a little better for everyone? I think it'd be awesome if we could somehow magically eliminate all hatred in the world, but I don't think any of us were speaking to that lofty and impossible goal. We were looking at our own little lives and what tiny changes we can make to perhaps relieve ourselves of that stealthy brand of hatred.
Anger, indignation, a passion for justice--these emotions are often productive and lead to world changing and improvements. Hate, I think, is quite different. Hate immobilizes. Hate isn't enlightening--it's blinding. Once we hate we can no longer see clearly. People merge together into groups of Other. Any time in history when humans choose to see any group of people as less-than-human, very bad things have happened. Slavery. Genocides. Mass murders. This is dangerous turf. Choosing not to hate doesn't mean excusing atrocities. We can stand up for beliefs without hating those who believe differently; we can fight for justice without hating the offenders; we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from toxic and destructive influences without hating those sources. Or at least, we can try, and I think it's worth trying for. In reality, I don't think hating anyone truly denies them humanity. It only damages our own.
I would argue that hatred has never improved a single moment for a single person on this planet. It's a primal reaction, one that has been scientifically proven to harm, to flood the body with toxins, to damage the heart and mind. When I say "I hate--" I find myself feeling that emotion, and what I once only disliked I begin to loathe. I've written "hate" many times in this post. I'm not seeking to eliminate it from the English language. It's an apt description of a strong emotion. But I am seeking to eliminate it from my own self, even if that's not totally possible. I don't want to feel hatred, and I don't want my kids to be raised believing that hate is okay. Hate breeds hate. It's a very strong word, and it's one I've learned to be careful with. It's improved my life to be more aware of it, careful with it, mindful of the consequences of being too casual with hate.
I have sometimes noticed people bestowing a kind of respect upon hate, as if it's a power, something that makes one better, stronger, more active and intelligent than others. I want to kick the altar built to hate. I want to deny it any majesty and expose it for the deceitful, unproductive, damaging and unquenchable hunger I believe it is. Hatred starts naturally as a knee-jerk reaction. But ongoing hatred we have to nurture in ourselves, we have to choose to hate. I question the benefit of that.
We all have different experiences. This is mine. In the end all we can really do is share our own experiences, listen to others, and try to make the best choices we can, living the lives we've been given. I hope this discussion will be worthwhile. Again, in the comments feel free to agree or disagree, but please do so respectfully.