When We Say We ‘Hate’, What Are We Saying?
By George Bosnjak
Council President, Bethlehem Church
The following stream of thought came as a result of a too-long-delayed self-evaluation. My personal mood regarding events in the world around me was less than positive. I found myself using one word more and more to describe my feelings toward other humans: “hate.” If I’m honest, I have been using this word for far too long. I found out I’m not alone.
Last week, shortly after the remembrance of the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., I was struck by two of his quotes:
- “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”
- “Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.”
Truth and love will have the final say, do not let others drag you to hate. Hate is learned and I was doubling down on my use of it. But did I even know what it really meant to hate someone? Over and over I have said I hate this sports team or that TV pundit and that politician. What was I saying? Did I even know? No, I didn’t.
The definition of ‘hate’ involves harm
The next step was some education, and one definition of hate stuck out — maybe because it was the harshest or was the one I least wanted to be associated with: “the desire to cause physical or emotional harm.” I was saying out loud and without any repercussions that I wanted to hurt others, and I was saying it often.
With further digging I found a graph (below) that tracked the usage of the word “hate.” The trend is disappointing. We use the word “hate” more today than at any point in recent history. The problem is we don’t know what we are saying, and we don’t mean what we are saying. We don’t want to harm the person on TV or on our computer or even our neighbor. The second we use that word we verbally and emotionally give up on moving forward on finding a common solution, on love. We give up on a solution to what we care about.
I have been lucky to travel to many places around the world. I have met people of many religions, races, and varying socioeconomic circumstances. We all want the same things: safety and health for who we care about, a better life for our children, and improvement in the communities around us.
If you have said you “hate” (we all have) a person you see or can imagine far away or in our community, ask yourself: Would you hurt that person? I know the answer is “no.” Why would you physically hurt someone with the same hopes and dreams you have?
Help make the “hate” graph decline
There is a high likelihood that the graph below will continue to go up, especially in the near future. Please try not to be a part of that. If someone tells you to blame others, to hate them, question that person, especially if they are in a position of power. If you are scared of another person to the point of hate, ask yourself: Who told you to be scared of them? Where did we learn this?
I assure you I will be frustrated about events and actions that happen around me in the near future. Things will happen that I cannot explain or likely understand, but I will not “hate” those individuals.
I will keep that word out of my mouth, I hope you will also.