Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
As yesterday’s article laid out, people hate in two ways: Intentionally and Inadvertently. And each type has a unique justification that allows the person harboring said hate to do so without feeling condemned by their conscience.
For Intentional Hate, we believe the person/group in question deserves our hatred.
When it comes to Inadvertent Hate, we end up trying to insist both to ourselves and others that we don’t actually hate them. And it’s to this justification that I’ll push back on today.
To do this, I’ll again pull from Howard Thurman’s, “Jesus and the Disinherited,” where he describes what hate is and how it grows.
Describing Hatred So We Can’t Deny Its Existence
Inadvertent Hate exists at an unconscious level.
We might truly think/believe we don’t hate so-and-so, or this group of people, but my sense is that once we have a good working description of what hatred is, then we might hold up our current attitude against it and discover that maybe, after all, “hate” is the most accurate word to use.
Here is how Thurman describes the process by which we become “hatred walking on the earth.”
First, it begins when there is “contact without fellowship.” Which is to say, you become aware of the person or the group in question, but you do not have real, genuine fellowship with them.
The lack of warmth or affection that might come through fellowship, through getting to actually know people (in this case, the ones you believe are your enemies), becomes fertile ground for hatred to take root.
Second, because there is no real fellowship, we develop what Thurman calls “unsympathetic understanding.” Which is to say, we don’t truly know them or understand them.
As a result, we often create our own version of who they are and why they do what they do in our minds—and such a creation really only exists in our minds. Or, as is the case nowadays (thanks to social media, 24/7 news cycle, etc), a version of who they are is created for us by politicians, talking heads, public figures, and so on. Who we think our “enemies” are never truly maps on to who they really are. At best we only ever have straw-men versions of our enemies. Gross mischaracterizations developed and sustained by the aforementioned lack of fellowship with them.
Third, an unsympathetic understanding tends to express itself in the active functioning of ill will. In other words, you wish bad for them.
You want them to fail (or at least, not succeed). You want harm to come their way. You want them to suffer. And if all else fails, should you keep insisting you don’t “hate them because you don’t actually want them to suffer,” perhaps consider the inverse: can you honestly say you wish well for them?
Finally, Thurman suggests that when a person has contact without fellowship, leading to an unsympathetic understanding that produces feelings of ill will, we have now succeeded in becoming hatred walking on the earth.
To break that down one final time:
-We are aware that certain “types of people” exist.
-We don’t know them personally, nor do we know them well.
-We only know some incomplete, stereotyped, often intentionally misleading characterization of them.
-We believe (because we are told) they are against us, our enemies.
-We don’t like that, so we don’t like them.
-We wish ill for them.
-Voila, it can now be accurately said that we hate them.
So to the person who tries to convince others (or themselves) that “I don’t actually hate that person, or those people,” once you break down the process of how hatred grows and manifests, it becomes pretty clear that you do, in fact, harbor Inadvertent Hate toward them.
Deeply Divided and Filled with Hate
Our country is deeply divided.
We all know this. And those who are paying attention can feel it.
I am heartbroken by how this administration has elevated the destructive emotion of hatred to not just respectable, but admirable.
I am convinced that…
…because we don’t take the time to fellowship with people unlike us,
…because we don’t invest the energy to truly understand them,
…because we don’t actively work for the good of those we don’t like or don’t know well,
we have become hatred walking on the earth.
Sometime our hatred is intentional, but we justify it because we believe it is deserved.
Other times, our hatred is inadvertent. We may not realize it’s hate that hides in us, who’s only goal is destruction.
Though Trump may not be responsible for the hatred that people hold in their own individual hearts, and though hate absolutely exists on all sides of the political spectrum, as I mentioned yesterday I do 💯 place the blame squarely on his shoulders for our culture’s collective toleration/celebration of hatred.
He oozes hatred and people eat it up.
He’s a professional enemy-maker, and people nod in agreement and regurgitate it.
It is destructive.
It is lethal.
And... oh, what’s that?
It lives deep within me, too?
Well, let’s save that for next week…