(Photo cred: Logan Martin)
For the past month I’ve done a sort of anatomy of hatred.
Beginning with a quote from the movie Mary Magdalene, where Jesus asks, “How does it feel to carry that hate in your heart?” I’m learning how hate is a heavy, cruel burden. It is poison that infects.
Then I turned to the brilliant mind of Howard Thurman in his book, Jesus and the Disinherited, to explore some of what hatred is and how it functions. As a poison, it bears deadly fruit. Even should we feel our hatred justified, we cannot contain hatred to one segment of our hearts and minds. It will seep out and destroy us.
Last week I did back-to-back posts addressing our current culture of hate as designed and sustained by Donald Trump. I looked at two types of hatred (Intentional and Inadvertent), as well as common objections people use to try and get out of or around their harboring of hatred.
What has become painfully clear to me throughout all this is that I am not immune to the development of hatred growing inside me. I am not exempt from becoming, as Thurman puts it, “hatred walking on the earth.”
In fact, that’s part of the genius of hatred.
How it can blind us from seeing its cruel presence lurking in the corner of our own selves. We are keen to spot it in others, but when comes to us, it is shielded by a protective seal of, “but my feelings are justified,” or, “c’mon, this can’t be described as hatred, can it?”
But I need to be honest with myself.
Yes, the hatred is in me. And,
No, it is not justified or better than other’s hatred. And,
Yes, Colby, it really is hatred, stop trying to put lipstick on that pig.
Naming My Hatred (for Donald Trump)
Look, I don’t like the term “hate.”
And prior to reading the chapter, “Hate” in Thurman’s book, I would’ve likely argued that I don’t “hate” Trump.
Such a sentiment sounds brutish and unevolved.
(Two things I like to pretend aren’t me).
But after a careful exploration of what qualifies as hate, and after an honest assessment about my feelings toward him (including a few emails from readers who were like, “uh, Colby, you’re being sort of a hypocrite here. Clearly you hate Trump!”), I have to admit that over the past 3+ years I have hated Donald J Trump.
And though I’ve tried to find other words to use to make my feelings more palatable, the truth is I’ve not been bothered much about my strong feelings toward him.
Clearly I’ve felt my feelings of hate justifiable.
I’ve convinced myself that he deserves my hatred.
After all, here’s just a sampling of why I’ve felt justified in harboring hatred toward the man:
Longtime Sexual Criminal:
To date, 25 women have accused Trump of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. Twenty. Five. Even if half of them were lies, even if 3/4 of them were made up, even if 20 out of 25 of them were just wrong... this number is appalling.
He Brags about Sexual Assault:
But for reals, should we be surprised at such a vomitorious number? Trump doesn’t even bother hiding it: “I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything… grab them by the pussy.”
Okay, you know what, never mind.
I was going to list like 5-7 reasons why I feel my hatred of him is justified, but it honestly exhausts me every time I go through his long ass list of heinous offenses.
If you’re really curious why I’ve felt justified in my hatred, here’s a detailed catalog of Trump’s worst cruelties, collusions, corruptions and crimes.
Suffice it to say, he mocks disabled people, belittles women, is racist in ways I thought were unfathomable in the 21st century, lies about everything, and by all accounts is entirely absent of any of the fruits of the spirit (I know that sounds funny to say out loud, but remember, most of his followers think he’s Christian. Which is laughable).
I do not know the man, obviously, but still, I do not like the man. I’m appalled at what he stands for. I’m disturbed by his mental state. I’m offended by his every Tweet. He does and says horrible, horrible things.
So, yeah, I would be lying if I claimed I have not hated the man.
And, as predicted in this study, I’ve not been bothered by my hate (which I should be!) because I’ve believed he deserves it.
In fact—being super vulnerable here—I’ve even muttered to people in some of my weakest moments, “Trump truly challenges my fundamental belief that all people are loved Children of God. Sometimes, I truly do wonder if maybe that’s not as true as I’ve come to believe.”
I’m sorry. I don’t like how that sounds either. But I wanted to be honest with you. I couldn’t write about hate for four weeks as though it were not something I struggle with.
What to Do With My Hate
Though I’m tempted to just keep on trucking on in my life, caring not that I harbor such hatred in me (because again, it is justified!), I am trying... truly, trying... to let the truths I’ve been learning about Hatred sink in to my being.
In other words, if I genuinely want a whole, connected, flourishing life, then harboring hate in my heart is 100% antithetical to that. I will be pushing a boulder up a hill, and not only will I never get close to the top, I’ll eventually fall victim to the crushing weight as the boulder inevitably will resist my attempt.
Yes, sure, I can keep hating Trump and convince myself it’s fine.
But no, I can’t expect that it won’t have long-lasting, negative impacts on me (and those I love).
Hatred is lethal. And I’m not immune from its poison.
Which means I have to do something about this hate.
I don’t want it in me.
I don’t want to stop being bothered by almost everything the man says and stands for.
I don’t want to give up the fight against his demagoguery, his misogyny, his xenophobia.
I don’t want to walk away from the damage he’s done and is doing to so many people in this country.
I don’t want to not be angry about his constant lying, his power hungry manipulation.
I don’t want to be “okay” with how corrupt he and his friends are, and how much he protects the rich and powerful.
All of those things? All of those behaviors?
I want to keep hating.
I think I need to keep hating.
So I don’t know… I think maybe... just maybe... we can “hate” acts of injustice, “hate” oppression, “hate” cruelty, and maybe not have it infect us in the same sorts of ways that hating people does?
That’s what I’ll be thinking about next...
What do you think?
Do you think we can/should hate a person’s actions/behaviors/beliefs in a way that prevents us from hating them as a person?
And/or, is “hating a person’s actions” different enough so that the poison of hatred doesn’t have the same lethal effect on our souls?