Hate is a scary thing. I don’t know if most people are afraid of it, but I am. Hate hangs heavy in dark places like a towel sopping wet on the line. Seemingly like Thompson’s hound of heaven, hate haunts down the narrow back alleys. Waits to find us unawares. Stalks us with intent.
To escape it is no small feat. Victory is rarely won in a single battle. Hatred is a tempting response to hatred. Many of us, therefore, know both sides of the monster rather better than we wished.
Like love, there are lesser forms of hate. One of my children “hates” one of their siblings right now. Most everything said sibling does is cause for disgust. I don’t think child A hates child B. I think they love them but feel so terribly insecure about themselves that they need to put another person down. It isn’t hate yet, but unchecked it has the seeds to grow a bumper crop.
I listened once to a mother explain to me how strongly she felt about violence. She could not tolerate it to the extent that were someone to enter her home, she could not imagine attacking them to protect her children. I, on the other hand, can imagine without any effort attempts to inflict as much bodily harm on said intruder as possible with whatever frying pan, steak knife, or cat was handy. This may reflect primordial instinct and a parent’s duty to protect (I think it does) but in my case at least, even the idea of this kind of danger taps into a rage against threat that is not all good.
Most of us have our own supply of hate. The never ending news feeds encourage it’s close cousin, terror. In our rising fear we borrow liberally from a great bank of hate. With so much danger all around, hate (like State Farm insurance) is something we can never have too much of.
The following occurred in my presence. I share because it begs the question.
A boy not mine. Deeply wounded. Deeply troubled.
A girl. Smaller. Younger. Upset because the boy has called her an idiot.
Me. Sighing. Boy breathes rage. Nothing can be done but this is not the time to say that.
Say something loving, I offer, not at all sure of myself.
The girl hesitates the walks to the boy.
You hurt my feelings, she said softly.
What? interrupted the boy loudly.
You hurt my feelings, she said. But I forgive you.
Ok, said the boy.
The girl walked away. The boy followed her.
Hey, he said. He tapped her on the shoulder. Hey, what did I do that hurt your feelings?
You called me an idiot, she said.
For a second he looked confused. Then he tapped her on the shoulder again.
Hey, he said. I’m sorry I said that. Then he followed her across the room and said sorry two more times. For the rest of the class, there was no rage.