Friday, 17 October 2014

Squalid impulses

I'm not a hateful person. If there's something about someone that rubs me up the wrong way, I don't hate them for it. I adjust to it, I work around it, I try to understand it. I don't hate them any more than I would hate a rock for being jagged or a snake for being poisonous.

I don't understand people who seem to be a never-ending torrent of hatred. Everything sets them off - a noisy neighbour, a demanding boss, a rude sales assistant, a smarmy politician. Any excuse and they let rip, tearing everyone to shreds. Where does all this bile and venom come from?

I've only hated two people in my life, people who treated me so badly all positive feelings were crushed and loathing took over. I just wanted to be free of them so I could repair my battered self-respect.

Of course you're probably already thinking I'm too good to be true, too magnanimous by half. I'm obviously denying my real feelings, bottling things up, keeping a stiff upper lip. I'm an emotional snob pretending to be better than everyone else and immune to squalid human impulses.

Well, I can assure you there's nowt bottled up. The fact is that hatred just doesn't come naturally to me. Which is surprising since all my immediate family are (or were) more than capable of intense hatred. I could list a dozen things that set them off like Pavlov's dogs.

It's often said that people hate what they don't understand, or what they secretly envy. I think there's a lot of truth in that. But if you don't understand something, why not try to unravel it? If you envy something, why not join in? Why the need for such bitter hostility?

"Let no man pull you so low as to hate him" - Martin Luther King.

14 comments:

John Gray said...

I have only hated one person...and that was at the end of a love affair
I hated them because I loved them too

Nick said...

John: You've only hated one person? That's one better than me! A man after my own heart. And at the end of a love affair - that's very understandable. Break-ups can be absolute misery.

susie said...

Currently, I only hate one person. That's not so bad?? Right?

Bijoux said...

There are plenty of people I don't like, so I just ignore them. I'm not sure when and how 'don't like' turns to hatred? Maybe when we do something about it?

Nick said...

Susie: That's impressive. Much better than most of the population, I'm sure. Almost saintly in fact.

Bijoux: I would say dislike is a fairly mild and benign emotion. Hatred on the other hand is something vicious and destructive, something that dehumanises and stigmatises the other person. Well, that's how I see it.

Keith said...

I wouldn't say I hate anyone, but if I dislike someone and want rid of them, and I find out they are a devout churchgoing Christian I just tell them I'm an Atheist. That usually does the trick.

CheerfulMonk said...

I agree. Hatred and intense anger don't come naturally for me. I hate the way those emotions feel, so I mostly try to avoid them. I don't suppress them, I just try to avoid people that might make me feel that way and focus my energy and attention elsewhere.

Nick said...

Keith: If someone is very right-wing, I usually find I only have to hint at my socialist and trade-unionist principles and they disappear rapidly.

Jean: Me too, I try to steer clear of hate-prone individuals, they totally depress me. I don't know how they keep it up.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I'd make a distinction between hatred and intense anger. The set of things you describe in the second paragraph don't sound like hatred to me - an over-the-top angry response to a person or situation, yes, but not hatred. I know people say, "I hate it when.." but that's no different than declaring your love for chocolate raspberry ice cream or when you fin twenty bucks on the street. So I "hate" people who hog the fast lane or eat noisily, but I don't really hate them.

I think of actual hatred as an intense, ongoing loathing of a person. I can only think of one person I currently hate - my father's third wife, who is absolutely nasty to me and does everything she can to get in the way of me having a relationship with my father (who has Alzheimer's and can't defend himself). There are many people who might momentarily annoy me and I can be sarcastic as all hell, but generally I'm not prone to hatred. In fact, I've managed to stay friends with many exes (after a cooling off period), even if they've hurt me because I can't work up the hatred that would help me stay distant.

Nick said...

Agent: That's an interesting distinction. I guess you're saying that temporary, off-the-cuff reactions to someone are not the same as hatred, which is something long-term and enduring. I think I agree with that.

I'm not surprised you hate the third wife, her behaviour sounds quite cruel. And I admire the way you've stayed friends with your exes and not lapsed into private bitterness.

Nick said...

Well, you all sound like thoroughly kind-hearted people who find it an uphill struggle to hate anyone. I'm impressed.

Grannymar said...

Nick, I see hatred as a disease that eats away inside a person, like a cancer. Not a place I choose to go. I may find some people's behaviour annoying but certainly not see it as hated, I just choose not to join their club.

Life is too short.

Nick said...

Grannymar: Yes, it is a kind of disease. And it gets more and more virulent if it isn't nipped in the bud.

Rummuser said...

I have shared it in some of my posts Nick. I did harbour some deep rooted hatreds till I started serious Vipassana meditation. That helped me resolving those issues without getting the objects of hatred involved and since then new hatreds have not replaced the old ones that left me. Now, I do not see the purpose of such negative emotions.