What is hate like?

image from http://dangerousharvests.blogspot.com/2010/06/hatred-love-and-dhammapada.html

I wonder … what does it feel like. I can’t remember anymore. I’m not sure I ever knew what it feels like. I do remember being extremely angry at people who did me wrong when I was younger, but it was so long ago. I don’t remember ever hating anyone that I didn’t even know, but I see a lot of people that hate others because of what they see. Without working side by side, without eating together, and without even a word spoken.

I don’t understand such hatred. Some people seem to hate, blindly, anyone and anything that they don’t understand or that isn’t familiar. I have always been curious, perhaps too curious at times, and I revel in different languages and cultures. I love to try to figure out what is important to people who did not grow up with the same priorities as were present in my household. I suppose this serves me well as a teacher, but it leaves me with so many questions.

hate (from ye ol' Dictionary.com)
verb (used with object)
1. to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest: to hate the enemy; to hate bigotry.

Is it fear? Is it the fear of being wrong or the fear of not understanding the situation? Is it just the fear of something different? What makes a man look at another man and fear his skin or his eyes while concurrantly vehemently denying that there is any fear at all?

In my brief (brief means wikipedia for me…) reading, I found mainly allusions to the urge to withdraw from something that is bad. But what is bad about people who speak a different language or eat different food or have a different color. In some religions, it is only ok to hate evil. But that leaves things wide open to interpretation. What is evil? My interpretation is that there is very little evil on Earth. Evil lives in the human heart. Evil is mostly an illusion. Animals are not evil. Plants are certainly not evil. Only people can be evil … or good for that matter. And maybe dogs. At least that is what my anecdotal observations seem to convince me is the popular understanding.

This might explain why so many people ‘hate’ other people, but do not seem to have any particular emotional revulsion to poison ivy or mountain lions, both of which are arguably more dangerous that a person speaking another language. The people that hate don’t seem to hate oleanders or cobras, which are easily more dangerous than a person with lighter skin.

Is this a cultural leftover from our hunter/gatherer tribe days? Does it come from one bad experience that gets passed down through generations? Is it simply born out of ignorance? Many of the people who proclaim to hate others do seem fairly narrowly educated, but I’m not fooled. I’ve seen a few, and I believe there are many more, people that hate that are well educated and current with world events. They are just good at hiding it. And for good reason. I live in the United States, where it is becoming much less popular to hate other people. This is a drastic departure from the past.


But in other parts of the world, I’m sure it is quite different. I saw a chart the other day that was about the percentage of women who feel that a husband has the right to hit his wife and to my great surprise, there were countries where over 90% of women think that it is ok for men to beat them up. Now I don’t think this is the same thing as hatred, and I’m not trying to compare this cultural view in any way, but it was a wonderful reminder of how drastically different things are in other cultures and how much I really don’t know. I cannot really understand what it is like to live in another country, but I’m trying to learn, to understand.

I don’t really believe that love and hate are opposites, either, like some people seem to claim. They do not seem related to me. Hate does not seem like anti-love. I think they come from a different place in the heart and soul. I think it is just convenient to portray them as opposite. It seems more likely that compassion or understanding are the closest things to the opposite of hatred.

So what is hate? At this point, I’m no closer to figuring out what causes such a debilitating affliction. It could be a holdover from religious conquests, an ancient fear originally designed to protect, or just a bunch of idiots with closed minds and dead hearts. Maybe I’ll find the answer some day. Until then, I live and learn.



    1. I don’t know what got me thinking about it. I don’t think about it that much at all, but I guess it has always been so obvious around the world and throughout history.


  1. I think what we hate are evil intentions. People who hurt others and don’t feel bad about it; murderers and abusers without any mental disorder or any other “excuse” to do what they do.

    But of course there are those who hate things they don’t understand, and hate without understanding. I think we should learn to understand before we decide if we hate it or not.


    1. I wonder how someone can be a murderer and NOT have some mental disorder. I wonder how someone can hate people just because of how they look and not have some problem. It’s a strange thing.


      1. They should do a throrough psychological evaluation on Kony lol.

        Yeah I don’t get racism either. I know that people from certain countries/cultures have traits that other people might find annoying, but you can’t judge a whole population because of a single trait or only a few people. Hating in this case, racism, is probably a mental disorder :P… they just don’t dare to acknowledge it as such.


      2. I hadn’t really thought of it as a mental disorder, but it makes a lot of sense. It would be strange to see people ‘diagnosed’ with racism and going into a hospital or group therapy sessions, but when you think about it … it makes sense.


  2. I reflect on the same thing. I often wonder what goes through the mind of a hateful person, and whether it is a specific characteristic or something we all have the potential to become.


    1. Maybe it is a mental stage people go through, like being 5 and thinking you can have all the ice cream you want. I think some people get mentally ‘stuck’ at a certain age if there are problems in development. If there is also a hateful atmosphere around, maybe that is what happens. It’s fun to wonder, anyway …


  3. The reason for hatred is a question that weighs heavily on my mind, especially as an activist because of my focus on social justice. Too often I see people justifying their prejudices using heavily-skewed interpretations of religious doctrine, science, or whatever they can find to give them a reason for their unreasonable mindset. Just this week, I ended up deleting several comments off of my own blog because they were rife with hate-speech, and had nothing to do with the posts themselves. Just mindless vitriol being spewed in my direction, and for no reason other than my having the audacity to have an opinion, and do so in a public forum. No rhyme, no reason, just pure, unadulturated hate. It’s part of why I’m a bit disillusioned, having been an educator for almost seven years, because we tell our children they have the freedom to be and express themselves the way God made them, but it isn’t true. You can’t be yourself, only what others will allow you to be.


    1. I try to be myself in spite of them and I hope I encourage my students to do the same. Someone asked me today if I ever think my students are “stupid” because they have so much trouble in class. I told them my theory in short form: there are plenty of 15 year olds who are much better at many things than I am, chemistry just isn’t one of them. It is so easy for kids to think they are supposed to be good at everything that the school system thinks is important, yet all the while the things many kids ARE good at, like music, art, sports, leadership, and creativity, are pushed aside and devalued. I hope I convince them that their passions are just as valuable as anyone else’s. It takes courage to be the best at something that is unpopular. Just ask anyone who has every accomplished something worthwhile =)


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