Hate Has No Home Here

“Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good”

Romans 12:9

“Hate has no home here.” Do you all remember the rise of this phrase in the not so distant past? The horrors that led to it and the signs placed in lawns across America? Hate. No Home. Here.

“To hate”, to have an intense and passionate dislike of something or someone. Merriam Webster tells us that hate is a feeling of intense hostility and aversion that usually derives from fear, anger, or a sense of injury. Something happens about which we have a negative judgment, something that elicits a feeling of lack of control or powerlessness, and we determine to retaliate with an emotional rejection of that thing! 

In general we humans don’t like to feel not in control or powerless. We make a point of taming nature to cooperate with us, of learning the forces of the universe in order to harness their energy and capacity for power. To be subject to the power of something else, greater or not, makes us feel weak and less than, and to be less than, even less than something which is in fact greater than we are, feels intolerable to us. Our pride protests loudly. 

There is nothing wrong in desiring to meet greatness and tame it in order to form a sort of symbiotic relationship…there is something great and magnanimous in that, but where it becomes disordered is when the desire is not to tame but to control and when the motivation to do so does not come from the desire to meet greatness at its level, but to control something that causes us fear. Severe actions, taken from a place of fear, rarely, if ever, lead anywhere good. Fear pushes out rational thinking. It sounds the alarm in our brains and we go into survival mode, fight or flight. Adrenaline pumps, cortisol rises, and primal instincts take over. In this place, logical thinking would slow down our reaction time, gratitude and compassion do not serve a purpose when it comes to self-preservation, and as fear and gratitude cannot coexist in our brains, we are not able to discern fully and wisely choose about the matter at hand.

Fear makes us a victim. Fear makes us dumb. We were not made to live out of a spirit of fear but of love, power and self-control! Fear does have a purpose in the role of survival and self-preservation, but that is not what is at stake here. What is at stake is the dignity of the human person. And when dealing with the dignity and value of the human person, we should “hate” whatever takes away from that. Hate is not an evil…it is what we do with it, what actions we take from a position of hatred. To hate what is evil is not wrong. In fact, I think it is quite proper to the function of the human mind to discern to intentionally hate something that is evil and can be virtuous if the actions that follow are ethical and lead toward the ultimate Good. To hate what is evil can require an immense degree of bravery.

So perhaps we must be more specific in our use and intention with the word “Hate”. To see, assess, discern and decide to hate something that is evil, is not wrong and is in fact proper use of our power to reason. On the other hand, to hate from an instinctual fearful response, is not proper to the function of man and makes him victim to his emotion of fear, acting from impulse rather than reason and puts him at risk of errant ways of thinking and acting. So we must distinguish between the two.

Is it wrong to hate in all instances? We’re always told growing up that we need to be “nice”. We need to share, we need to include, we need to take turns. I’m all for that. I am a mother of 5, things implode in the home when this does not happen! But what about when someone isn’t playing nice? What about when you allow someone to take a turn and then they cut you in line or push you out of their way or call you names? In the name of “being nice”, I think we have often abdicated our duty to use our ability to judge and discern the rightness or wrongness of a situation and stand up for what is true! It is not virtue to choose cowardice in the name of “being nice.” So I ask you, is it wrong to hate what is bad? 

I think the hatred of the “Hate has no home here” movement stems primarily from that fearful feeling of powerlessness because when put up against the logic of reason, at some point, it stops making sense. For hate to have no home anywhere is not appropriate. We are meant to hate what is wrong. To decide to tolerate all things inherently means at some point we are advocating to tolerate what is wrong, what is evil, whatever your creed determines that to be. It is impossible to live in such a moral extreme. As Obi-Wan Kenobi so wisely states, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.” The world is more complex than that. Black and white thinking belongs to the wishful wiles of those who cannot accept the complex nuances of reality. Not everything can be neat and tidy in this messy world, as frustrating as that is.

We live in a society that has no tolerance for hate. A hatred of hate, so to speak. I realize it sounds very strange to be advocating for hatred but here me out. The human heart was made with this natural capacity. Emotions, in and of themselves, are not good or bad, it is the actions that come from them that determines the morality of a human heart. Hatred tells us that something is wrong. It is information to be utilized. To ignore or pretend we don’t feel this heat within us is an assault against the dignity of human intuition. Are we not allowed to feel the entire range of our emotions? Can we go so far as to see the intolerance of hate is a hate crime against the capacity of the human person’s emotional experience?

To be intolerant of hatred, limits the compass of the human heart. This emotion exists for a reason. We are meant to hate what is wrong so that we may fight and stand up for what is right! We end up fighting ourselves or squelching our moral compass when we refuse to allow our intuitive moral sensor to function in its job. For hate to have no home in the human heart is contrary to its nature. We were made this way. To pretend it’s not there, to white knuckle tolerance of the intolerable, to dull our moral compass or to full out lie and say that a neutral component of the human psyche is in fact wrong, is evil. To hate what is evil is not a sin. As I have already said, it is what we do with that hatred that is extremely important and I want to make it extremely clear that any valid hatred does not justify any extreme or immoral behavior. The end never justifies the means. This is a deep-set Catholic teaching. However, there is a time when hatred of a thing is proper, and that is when that thing is evil. 

I understand why the movement started. Hate crimes are real, bad things happened, reactive people with powerful weapons caused real damage. But the facts of what occurred are not the point of my argument. It is the unrealistic solution that the problem is simply that hatred must be eradicated – the decision to throw the baby out with the bath water, that we must cut off a facet of the human emotional experience. No. This is not correct. The composition of the human heart was not made in error. The emotion of hatred has its place. To wield it properly, however, is a skill that must be demonstrated and taught, learned and practiced. That is where the rubber meets the road here. This is the call of our current generation.

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