The hate challenge

By | 2013/01/17

Black bowl


A few years ago I realised the word “hate” had powerful resonance with me. In fact, more than just resonance, it had a synaesthetic effect on me – I’d say “hate” or hear someone else saying it and I’d picture a bowl of tar-like vitriol, as per the Ur-Viles from Covenant. In that set of books, the creatures would pour their hate and anger into a bowl as a potent acidic liquid, and use it as a weapon, often with deadly effect.

It wasn’t an image I liked.

So I stopped using the word. I used to as things like “I hate it when someone cuts in front of me in traffic”, or “I hate murderers”, and all manner of things. On a normal day I’d hate dozens of things.

I’m still not where I want to be with the word “hate”. It still slips out every few months, and usually to my chagrin and no small amount of horror. I only allow myself one legitimate use of the word – to describe something as “hate speech”. Even with that I’m fairly cautious about using the term, usually making certain I’m highly confident Hanlon’s razor has been tripped before I accuse someone of “hate speech”.

At first I stopped using the word because I didn’t like the synaesthetic effect of it. Given how I learnt to speak though (speech therapy with flash cards – I learnt to speak while looking at the words and a pictorial representation of each word) I should have been smart enough to realise what the net effect of deliberately dropping a word from my vocabulary would be – but no, it took me a while to realise the effect.

I stopped hating.

It wasn’t just a case of no longer using the word, I stopped using the emotion too. And don’t try to kid yourself – there is nothing good about the emotion associated with hate.

Perhaps because I’ve mostly exorcised the word, and the emotion, from how I think, I’ve become more sensitive to seeing others being hateful. Yesterday on a comment stream on Facebook, I felt like I’d been punched in the gut reading the following hateful comment:

“Die bitch die i hope you get murdered you fucking range love is live and you obviously dont have any in your ice cold heart i hope some junkie stabs you with an infected syringe and you sero convert then you will know the true meaning of support you vile bitch”

That’s not a message of condemnation, nor contempt, but utter, unmitigated hatred. Thankfully I didn’t know that person, though regrettably he was on my friends list until the moment he’d posted that. I have no time in my life for anyone who acts so contemptuously.

I’m issuing a challenge: mentally and emotionally, I am a better, healthier person for abandoning “hate”, both as a word and a concept. The word sneaks out every now and then – not because of any real emotion, but as a reflex response. The last vestiges of its influence on me. Like a muscle memory, it’s a thought path that was established for so long that the breaking of it is a slow process. But I will succeed.

Here’s the challenge: I challenge you reader, regardless of whether you’re a random blog visitor, a twitter follower or a friend on Facebook, to stop saying you “hate” things. Become cognisant of every time you say it, and remind yourself not to. When you stop saying you hate things, you may just realise you stop actually hating things too.

“He’s not underground,
He’s not in the air
He’s not in that book
You take everywhere
The devil wears a suit
He lives in the town
He lives on your street
In your home
In your bed.”

Kate Miller-Heidke’s song, “The devil wears a suit” could be read to be about many different things, and literally it could be referring to the devil in a “heaven and hell are right here on earth, decided by your own free will” Boy George sort of way.

But in this sense, a synonym for the devil may justifiably be “hate”. Hate isn’t something that’s manifest in the world around us, it’s something we choose to carry around with us. It’s an emotional or mental parasite that we enable and allow to grow by embracing the word, and the concept.

I challenge you: starve the parasite and stop allowing yourself to be a host for hate.

3 thoughts on “The hate challenge

  1. Andrew Rollason

    “Hate” taken to its furthest possible extreme is an intense desire for a thing or a person to exist no more. I would suggest that it is perfectly rational and a good thing to “hate” evil, to “hate” those things which extinguish and destroy life and to “hate” organisations which promote death and mayhem but remembering that the people themselves are still inherently valuable and are due immense dignity as people.
    “Hate” in the proper context can be utterly noble under the proper circumstances. It was absolutely noble to “hate” slavery, it is proper to “hate” corruption and crime.

    In exceptional circumstances, people acting against what they “hate” make the world a better place by promoting life itself.

    1. preston Post author

      Actually, I’d disagree. I don’t think the raw hate emotion yields anything positive. I believe people can be impassioned and entirely vehement in their opposition to bad things without needing to hate them. If the hate is the primary factor, I believe it overrides compassion or understanding. Someone vehemently opposed to slavery would seek to free the slaves, but someone who hates it may be more tempted to punish people who have practiced it in an inhumane way. Similarly for crimes – in fact, it could be argued hate (not to mention kicking the can down the road) is more likely the background to capital punishment than anything else. I.e., it’s the difference between justice, and revenge.

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