Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Oops, I Forgot How to Hate

Hatred; that seething, furious, bottomless loathing; is something best suited to the young.

I don't think I've genuinely hated anybody in at least ten, no fifteen years. There was, way back when, a person I genuinely ought to have hated, in the fullest sense of the word, but I chose not to and, since then, I've been essentially unable to hate anyone else either.

There's plenty of room left to get angry at what people do. Sometimes I truly hate what some people do, usually when they do it to others or, worse yet, to me, but that doesn't translate into hatred for the person.

Maybe I'm just too lazy to hate anyone or too selfish or too self-centred. Maybe I'm just too damned old. You know it takes an awful lot of effort to really hate a person the way I've seen some people hate others. You have to invest a lot of yourself into it just to keep the fires from going out.

Now I suppose if somebody murdered one of my children I might hate them. In all honesty, I probably would. Actually I'd probably be able to hate anyone who murdered anyone's children but I think that's still setting the bar pretty high.

I have a friend, a well-placed, very bright, accomplished Conservative who genuinely hated Mike Harris. He hated what Harris was, he hated what Harris did, he truly hated the man himself. It wasn't jealousy or political rivalry but outright, visceral hatred. I found it perplexing, even a bit frightening but it also made me realize I didn't have that energy and drive to ever emulate the guy.

I guess what I learned from my friend is that, if you're really going to hate someone, do it right. It's too easy to "pretend hate" which gives you all the bad without any hope of the slightest good. If you haven't got the commitment to hate properly, why not try the lazy way out? Just let it go. When you do you might just find it lets go of you in return. That's usually when you discover that the person you thought you hated really isn't worth the bother of hating.


Larry Gambone said...

Interesting. Some thoughts:

I on the contrary have gone the other direction. I used to feel guilty when I was younger about hating all the bullies and torturers of the world. But I came to realize that hate is a normal human reaction to deliberate cruelty and oppression and to pretend that I didn't hate was both dishonest and not good for my health. So now as an old geezer, I can hate scumbags like Harper freely and get it out of my system.

I think religion has something to do with this as well. We are taught that it is wrong to hate our oppressors and that God will punish them, if they need punishing. I see this as both a denial of the feelings of oppressed and as a device to protect the oppressor.

Finally there is one's upbringing. If you were raised, as I was, in an authoritarian manner, you are full of repressed rage - the emotions that your parents blocked when a child. Much hate - and mine too - may be rooted there. Perhaps you were fortunate enough to miss a repressive upbringing.

The Mound of Sound said...

In some ways I think it comes down to a cost/benefit balance. I don't know that any hatred I've ever harboured actually got me anywhere. I find it drains energy and emotion for no good end. And once you decide not to hate someone who has genuinely and directly wronged you, it gets really hard to hate those who don't even measure up to that.

Beijing York said...

Interesting topic. I've always thought of myself as a forgiving person and there are people who have harmed me, some very badly, who I can't say I hate. I don't care about them one iota but I feel no need to think about them. But I have felt the rage of hatred when it came to the death of a loved one. Doesn't mean I want to see the culprit dead but I do want some sort of justice, some sort of righting of a terrible wrong.

But I can say with out a doubt that that sense of hatred is visceral. I tremble at the thought of ever having to see that person or hear their voice. I feel literally sick to my stomach at the thought of an encounter. I want justice so that that person will never be part of my life and I can move on.

Hatred on an intellectual level is rather sterile in comparison. I can hate Bush or Blair or Harper but I won't feel physically ill seeing or hearing them. I may be disgusted by what they do or say but their actions are symbolic in my life. I haven't lost a loved one as a result of what they do. But my hatred is based on empathy for those who have.