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Religious Tolerance logo

Hate:
What it is & how it damages the hater:
An essay by Contributing Editor,
Susan Humphreys.

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In an online chat this week, a Christian man started accusing those of us who were challenging his religious opinions of: "hating all Christians and Christianity." This I have discovered over the years is a very common response, so I wasn’t surprised by his opinion.

I replied to his posting, saying that I don’t hate anything. AND I really don’t HATE anything. Sure there are lots of things I dislike: liver, Illinois humidity, gun nuts, etc. But I don’t HATE any of those things. I can and have eaten liver; my mother was one of those who served it to her family regularly. I just prefer to avoid it, if possible!

I think HATE, if it is real, must be visceral, give you a queasy feeling in your stomach, make you want to vomit, or give you diarrhea! I think "hate" if it is real will pretty much take control of your life.

Another woman responded to the original posting, saying that just because people disagree with him and reject his religious beliefs doesn’t mean they hate Christianity.

A young man -- at least I think he was younger than I am by the remark he made -- said: YES he hates religion, he hates Christians. That’s the kind of remark a young person might make!

I replied to that young man that he shouldn’t waste his time "hating" anything. It hurts only himself. It is a waste of emotional energy. Instead he should spend his energy learning all that he can learn so that he can make coherent, logical and rational arguments to support his position. Religion, I said, will never be destroyed by hate. It will be destroyed by knowledge, by science, by historical fact -- in essence by TRUTH!

Later, I thought that isn’t exactly right, I partially mis-spoke. Hate can destroy religion when it is the hate of the religious person for all of those that aren’t just like him or her. I think it is this form of "hate" that is driving many away from Religion, and helping to cause a rise in the "Notas" 1 on religious polls.

When hate is present, it is really quite obvious. It is in the sound of the voices of the "protestors" outside Planned Parenthood Clinics. It is in the words used by some of the people that are against same sex marriage. It was and is seen on the nightly news reports of SOME of the people at campaign rallies and demonstrations this past year. NOTE I said some of the people. Not everyone at those campaign rallies or demonstrations were haters.

There is something really wrong/immoral about falsely accusing others of HATE. It is what Psychologists call projecting, attaching your own feelings onto others. It is a way a person justifies and sanctifies his own feelings: if they hate me then it is ok for me to hate them! AND where there is HATE on both sides it is ok for me to bully them, or be abusive to them, or to commit some other act of violence to them.

Hate mostly harms the hater, not the person who is hated.

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I have been fortunate, and have never lost a loved one or been personally injured in an act of violence or in a tragic accident or natural disaster. I was appalled when I saw a statistic that there have been 273 mass murders in the US this year alone. 2 We only hear about the ones with the big body counts, like the recent tragedy in Las Vegas. Not counted are the nightly gun violence where only one or two are killed or wounded at a time. With all of this killing stateside, 3 and all the wars around the world, there sure are plenty of reasons for people to "hate."

A neighbor of mine stopped by one day. Her sister was murdered by her estranged husband. It was obvious that my neighbor was having a bad day and needed someone to talk to. She asked me how I dealt with hate. Then she told me about her sister. When she stopped talking, I collected my thoughts and told her that "hate" only harms the one who "hates", it doesn’t affect the one who is hated. She then asked how could she forgive the man who killed her sister. She said that as a Christian she knew she was supposed to forgive him but she just couldn’t do it.

I tried to explain that forgiving is not the same as forgetting. She doesn’t have to pretend that what happened didn’t happen. Forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forsake seeking justice -- punishment in the courts for the person that murdered your sister.

I told her I can’t tell her how to forgive; I think that will come when you can begin to feel sorry for murderer, i.e. begin to imagine what it must be like to be the kind of a person that has so little respect for life and feels that an act of violence will solve his/her problems. AND, I said forgiveness may never come.

I can however, encourage you not to "hate". Hate drains your emotional energy; it can take over your life.

I really dislike Bullies, but I don’t "hate" them. I feel sorry for them. I pity the person who feels that the only way he can build him or herself up is by tearing other people down. It is hard to imagine what it must be like to be that kind of a person. In the Bully, I see what those feelings of insecurity and self-loathing do to a person. It is an ugly picture.

Then I told her how she might start by teaching herself to accept what has happened. She needs to stop all the "what ifs" and "if I had only been there, maybe I could have saved her." The first step is to accept that what has happened has happened. She can’t take it back. It is over and done with.

What matters now is where she goes from here. I told her that whenever she starts going round and round in her head about what happened she has to make herself stop by saying: "it is over, I can’t change what happened." She might have to say that to herself repeatedly.

I told her that, eventually, her subconscious mind would get the message and she’d stop thinking and obsessing about it every day. Hate is an obsession. Hate can give you that sexual flush and adrenalin rush that many crave. It can be as addictive as alcohol or drugs. Like drugs and alcohol, it can lead to seeking more and more violent forms of it.

I ended by telling her my philosophy is that there are lots of things that happen to us in this life that we have no control over. As an example I reminded her that I got breast cancer in 2015, had a double mastectomy and 6 months chemotherapy. I am now, so far, cancer-free. AND I said you lost your sister.

The ONLY thing we can control is how we choose to deal with whatever life sends our way, the good things, the bad things and the everyday things. AND I reminded her there are lots of folks in this world that have it worse than we have.

So be thankful for what you have, for your husband, your family, your grandchildren, the roof over your head, even if it leaks a bit. (That brought a smile to her face, because her roof does have a few leaks). Keep busy. Don’t sit around the house feeling sorry for yourself. If you can, take some positive action like the MADD mothers who organized to fight drunk driving. They got laws passed that made driving under the influence a criminal act with severe punishments.

AND, when you can, do something nice for someone else. Helping others always makes me feel better.

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References used:

  1. "Nota" refers to "not affiliated" or "none of the above," and refers to persons who are not affiliated with an organized religion. The term "nones" is more often used in the media, but can be confusing because it is a honomym -- a word that sounds identical to another word, yet has a different meaning. "Nones" sounds like "Nuns" -- both are religious terms.

  2. There is no concensus on exactly what consistitutes a mass murder in the U.S. Several definitions have been offered. According to Wikipedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/:

    "The FBI defines mass murder as murdering four or more persons during an event with no 'cooling-off period' between the murders. The term can be used to cover many types of killings, including spree killing, family murder/suicides, and multiple deaths as an indirect result of an action (e.g. arson)."

  3. According to CNN:

    "While [the] U.S. has 5% of the world's population, it sees about 31% of public mass shootings."

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Author: Susan Humphreys
Originally posted on: 2017-OCT-09

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