Like a lot of us these days, my mind has been working a lot on the problem of hatred. One thing i’ve discovered in my travels through this world, is that hatred can reveal an awful lot about a person. The things we hate are the opposite of the things we love! So, when you want to get to know yourself or any person, the quickest way to discover what they love is to first discover what they hate!
For whatever reason, people don’t readily go around talking all that much about the things or the people they love. Probably because it exposes their vulnerabilities. It makes them feel weak and exposed. The same applies to hatred but i think most folks share quite quickly what or who they hate. And from this, it’s a short leap to know what they most love.. the exact opposite!
Let’s use myself for an example. I absolutely hate and abhor bullying, any violence, emotional, physical or spiritual carried out against a weaker individual who is helpless to defend himself. It makes my blood boil, and when several or many gang up on one, i feel the anger much more intensely. Perhaps because i’ve experienced being on the receiving end a few times, i feel a certain connection with the victim and feel the pain along with him.
This of course, gives my soul away right there. What do i love? I love to see people helping each other, getting along, working together, especially when it happens in spite of cultural or religous divides. And the darker the world becomes the brighter shines this light. It really is beautiful to see images of people risking their own lives and resources to make someone’s life a little happier, doesn’t it?
But the whole question of what love actually is…
Most have heard about the 50 words the eskimo have for snow. It has so many different appearances and because its so prevalent in the far north, people found just the one word insufficient and developed many different expressions for the variations they saw.
Why haven’t we done the same thing with”love”?
We love ice cream on pie and we love the ones we hold most dear. We love it when it rains after a long drought and we love it when our favorite song comes on the radio. We love to see a baby take his first stumbling uncertain steps and we love it when our favorite enemy goes bankrupt. And really, there are a lot f times when the word “love” just doesn’t cut it. The greatest love is just love, same word.
Aaand on the other side of the river what set of circumstances drives an individual to inflict indescribable pain on others? Does a mass murderer just wake up in the morning with a sudden urge to kill a pile of people he has never met in his entire life? Or is it a feeling that builds over decades based on his own unique set of circumstances? No doubt the driver is different in every case. Jealousy in one. Arrogant disdain in another. Revenge, vengeance. Ugly emotions for sure and the opposite of whatever definition of love you care to use.
Several times in life I’ve felt the green eyed monster glaring out of my own baby blues. And i’ve discovered a solution which worked so well, i continue to use it as needed. I simply consider how nice it must be for the person i envy and rather than focus on myself and how pitiful it is that i don’t have what this person has, I get myself to the point where i’m genuinely happy for them! You can’t be happy for someone and jealous of them at the same time. Not possible. It’s one or the other, brother!
Some few ultra rare couples fall in love with each other, and at the same time, and this must be the greatest thing to experience in this life. We all know it’s rare. It’s as if some of us are marked for despair and spend our lives hoping it will happen to us, only to be repeatedly disappointed. It’s a rare treat given to a rare few, without any guarantee on either side even then. Maybe one falls out of love or a rival catches their eye, or one of them dies or meets some tragedy which separates them forever. Or the daily grind of life and it’s inevitable problems wears at the feeling until one or both gives up in despair. Or even turns into the ugliest of results, with one of them taking the life of the other!
Someone once said, “hatred lies quite close to love”. Maybe that is true. “Something to ponder” anyway, isn’t it? Is it possible that our loves and our hates are not so very far apart? Would you be loved, hated or treated with absolute indifference? At least hatred is interactive while indifference sits there, unamused, uninterested, detached, aloof. And if you’ve ever had the experience of being deeply in love to the point of obsession with someone only to have them treat you with disaffected scorn, you know there is no worse outcome possible.
From my own experience when i was much younger, there were times i allowed my hatred of certain individuals to control my mind for way too long. And what i learned from the experience is that i really didn’t care for the feeling of being in hate with someone. The stomach tightens when you think of them, sometimes almost to the point of being painful. Excellent food has no taste, the sunshine doesn’t feel warm, no adventure is any fun, and life is a pale grey as the mind works on resolving the hatred you feel. Gossip fails to satisfy and I can see how thoughts of causing physical harm could come unbidden to the hate-filled mind. Have to turn that one around right there and show it the door!
One of the world’s greatest teachers suggested the outrageous solution of loving our enemies and doing good to those who hate us. Any national leader who made this his foreign policy would at first belaughed to scorn, especially by his “defense” contractors! But has it ever really been tried at a national level? On a personal level I have, and in my experience as the recipient of a lot of unkind behavior, doing good to the person seemed to have no effect on their feelings for me. What it did at my end, though was it made me feel a whole lot better about myself than if i had reacted with violence. And maybe best of all, it kept me out of jail and a life-long feeling of despair and regret!