The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

On Hate

My recent article on Hillary Clinton and the reasonableness of hating her caused some confusion, especially when I said I don’t hate Clinton, though surely there are good reasons to do so.

The issue is this: While it is reasonable to hate people who have done great wrong to ourselves or to other people, hating does the hater little good and much harm.

Hate, and its brother, anger, can supply energy and motivation, but they are like shots of adrenaline. Over time they damage  the body and poison the mind. If used at all, they should be used in moderation, lest you hurt yourself more than the person you hate or at whom you angry.

Worse, this world is full of people it is entirely rational to hate. From those who run the corporations poisoning the world, to those engaging in wars which should not be fought, to those profiting from those wars, to—well, the list is, if not endless, long enough that no one can reach an end, though Dante tried in the Inferno.

Hate is thus never-ending, a poison cup which runneth over. No matter that you drink it to the dregs, it is ever full.

And, for me at least, hatred and anger are unpleasant. I do not enjoy the experience. Oh, like adrenaline or coffee, there’s that shot of energy, but it’s an ill feeling overall. It’s very hard to feel free and easy and happy and be topped up with hate.

Nor is hate necessary. There is no need to hate Clinton, or Bush, or Obama, or ISIS or anyone else in order to oppose them. Not hating doesn’t mean you have to be “nice” or “agreeable,” it simply means you are choosing not to allow a particular emotion to be your experience of the world.

Feel free to oppose evil with glee or happiness or delight. The evil doesn’t care about your hate, only the effectiveness of your opposition.

You can oppose evil without allowing it to control your mind or your emotions at all. If you find you can’t stop the anger or hate (or any other emotion), well then, you no longer control yourself, do you? Your enemies, in effect, are choosing your consciousness for you.

That seems like a very great power to give to one’s enemies, or to anyone else, for that matter.

So, no. I don’t hate Clinton, or even Bush, Jr. Not any more. Nor am I angry at anyone for longer than an hour or two, and rarely even that long any more. The last time I was angry for long was during the Greek crisis and I didn’t like it. So the question I asked myself was: “Is my being angry helping the Greeks in any way?”

No, it wasn’t.

So I stopped being angry, and was happy.

Letting anything in the world, let alone your enemies, control your consciousness, is foolishness. Again, if you think you’ve made a choice to hate, try to choose the opposite. Say: “Today, I will not hate or be angry, I will choose to be happy instead.”

If you can’t, you may have a problem.

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Merry Christmas


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  1. V. Arnold

    Nice post. Hate uses energy best directed towards solutions or at least understanding.
    In this world today, not an easy task; but a worthy one…

  2. Very nice post. The person you hate does not feel your hatred, only you do and it does indeed, as Ian says, corrode your spirit and darken your life.

    Reminds me of a discussion on forgiveness I read. Don’t recall the source, although it sounds rather like something Mother Teresa would say. The gist is that forgiveness does not benefit the person who is forgiven; he does not know it happened and feels nothing. Forgiveness benefits the person who forgives because with that act the weight of the world is lifted from his shoulders.

  3. Mark Wilson

    Buddhaghosa, in discussing anger said,
    “By doing this you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink.”
    Visuddhimagga IX, 23.

  4. Steeleweed

    I can understand anger, but hate used to puzzle me. To me, hatred implies a denial of the humanity of others. It is thus a denial our our own humanity.

    I first began to wonder about hate when I was about six. One girl in my class was a real bitch, nasty and mean to everyone. She did not change, from 1st grade through High School. I could not understand why until many years later when I encountered an identical woman in group therapy. In that setting and by analysis of the dynamics, I realized her hatred was basically of herself; a refusal to accept herself because she felt unable to live up to her parents’ expectations and demands.

    To the extent you hate others, you hate yourself. And you can only love others to the extent you love yourself.

    But you can indeed be really pissed at anyone, including yourself. 😀

  5. highrpm

    the binary love/hate, forgive/resent gets analog with personality disorders. object relations psychologists deal lots with personality disordered folks, usually a result of chronic early childhood trauma/ abuse by the caregiver. these chronic abusers/ imposers are “bad objects”. the first line of defense, forgiveness, eventually sputters out and the victim splits his “self” into multiple “true” and “false” entities, and similarly the bad object into “good” and “bad” pieces, closeting away his true selves and bad objects in his subconcious, thus arresting the development of his relationship skills with others because he can’t get past the big bad objects in his everyday conscious life. not good. and eventually resulting in the victim developing personality disorders.

    i will venture that all the current crop of presidential candidates are personality disordered, with most if not all suffering narcissistic personality disorder (npd). object relations therapists tell the victims the best way to deal with npd’ers in their lives is to leave. one can’t get along with these crazies.

    in relating to npd’ers, forgiveness works to “enable” them to further impose their will on those around them. the npd’ers do not respect others; they do not see red line boundaries; they run rough shod over those around them.

    for the health of the nation, the election laws should require multiple personality tests and disallow any suffering personality disorders from running for public office. unfortunately, unlike the law of gravity, the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders is both art and science, so the nation will never get there.

    hillybilly certainly suffers from npd. (and ted cruz, too.) as such, i don’t hate her, i just do not want her imposing her way on the nation. “smashing down” those around you is not unacceptable social behavior.

  6. Bruce Wilder

    Yes, the cost in personal being is too high.

    In collective memory and the construction of myth, though, it seems to me that there is a cost of letting go, which shows up as political amnesia.

    Political amnesia may have many causes, but one of them is certainly the inability to carry a sense of collective or shared grievance regarding past errors and wrongs. That should not be an individual weight, though. Frustration with the collective inability to register injustice beyond an extremely short half-life is a separate source of stress for the politically aware and conscientious.

  7. Bill Hicks

    I guess it depends on how you define “hate.” I “hate” all of the individuals mentioned in this piece and a whole lot more. Do I let that hatred consume me? Absolutely not.

    Which I think is a difference between leftists and right wingers, the latter of whom often DO let themselves be consumed by their hatred, which is why so many of them turn to violence.

  8. V. Arnold

    @ Bill Hicks
    December 26, 2015

    Which I think is a difference between leftists and right wingers, the latter of whom often DO let themselves be consumed by their hatred, which is why so many of them turn to violence.
    I see no difference between R & L: A false dichotomy at best; just two fangs of the same viper (MFI?). The left have just as much propensity for violence as the right; history will bear that out. Look at what the freak in the WH has done to Bush’s drone program; upped the killing 10 fold. JFK; Vietnam.
    So, lets get real here…

  9. Tina

    I find hate to be a total waste of energy, energy that could be used to right a wrong or to find an alternative solution to a problem.

  10. tsisageya1

    Strange, I have always found that hatred of evil, and those that do it, to be extremely liberating. So I guess I’ll have to say that I disagree with you.

  11. tsisageya1

    Wait, did that sound terrorist-y? Sorry. Didn’t mean it like that.

  12. capelin

    the old guy i used to lobster fish with had a saying, “don’t get mad, get even”.

    which is kinda a version of ian’s ” The evil doesn’t care about your hate, only the effectiveness of your opposition”.

    at a deep spiritual level, for sure hate is counterproductive. but in the meantime, while living in other levels, anger and hate (in measure) are very important tools, because they imply that one cares about that which is being harmed.

  13. Lisa

    As someone who is a part of arguably one of the most hated groups in society (transgender) it is interesting to analyse those who hate and attack us the most. There are the usual ‘hate everyone different’ types, the religious bigots and all the rest.

    But one group that stands out are the sexologists who have waged a war to eliminate us for decades, now finally losing. These are intelligent and well qualified people, so why do they hate us so much and have spent so much energy (heck their entire careers) trying to destroy us?

    And the cruelty they applied, it took until 2015 to finally end trans reparative therapy at Toronto’s CAMH (a centre of practical and academic trans hatred), but not before over 600 kids went through their regime. It took the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn (who was only one of very many) to finally start ending it in the US.

    After going through all their stuff (yes my eyes bled) the only conclusion I can come up with was that we offended their sense of the ‘natural order’ and their own unresolved inner issues*:

    Heterosexual Men and Woman, with sex just for procreation. Very eugenics stuff.

    Anything that deviated from that was a mental illness to them and they filled the diagnostic guidelines with all sorts of sexual paraphilias. They hated the de-pathologising of homosexuality, which they had also been trying to eliminate as well.

    But trans people changing gender was the greatest threat to that order they so craved

    So they dedicated their professional lives to ending us. The Archives of Sexual Behaviour is a sexology journal and on its first issue (1971) it stated that its purpose was the ‘ending of transsexuality’.
    All those involved then dedicated their whole professional lives to achieving that. And they used (and still do) every dirty, nasty, horrible trick in the world, abandoning all science, ethics and professionalism. They actually made up ‘evidence’ and lied endlessly.
    They perverted the entire world’s psychology and psychiatry establishments against us for over 40 years.

    Amazing the power and longevity of hatred. Each of the major players hate us just as much today as they did back then (going by their public comments).

    This is not ‘indirect hate (like a munitions company CEO) this is direct, in your face, hands on the wheel hate. And it is more than just ‘I want to hurt you hate, it is ‘I want to eliminate you from the world’ hate.
    CAMH was the classic in this, their own research eventually showed to them that their trans reparative therapy did not work, but they still publicly claimed it did and they still did it to every kid that got there. Like a punishment, ‘maybe we can’t change you after all, but we can make you feel horrible and maybe you will kill yourself’.

    So it is not just stupid people or religious bigots (etc) that can directly hate by any means. Intelligent, educated ones can be even worse, because they have the brains to do some real damage and like those others they can maintain it for their entire lives.

    *Hating can be a way of resolving your own inner demons, it makes your 0wn life simpler and all those nasty complexities all go away. In the case of the sexologists several of them almost certainly have major issues with their own sexuality and maybe even their own gender, a version of the infamous ‘ public gay hating gay man’ syndrome.

    A case study in nemesis.

  14. tsisageya1

    So, what is a democracy again? I’ve forgotten.

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