Nothing is Stronger than Hate

You hate someone.

I love how that sentence immediately sorts all of you into two buckets: one bucket of people who hate someone, and one bucket of people who think I’m full of shit. Maybe some people are in both buckets.

Maybe your hate is specific like mine usually is; you hate someone with a name and a face and a passion. Maybe your hate is general purpose or vague, like a political party or a religion. Maybe your hate is unnamed, but you still know it’s there.

Maybe you hate yourself.

Maybe you needed the hate, because someone you cared for hurt you. Hate is an easy transition from love, and neither is friendly with apathy. What you really needed was to delete that person from your brain, but that’s basically impossible, so instead you carved out a space for them and filled it with hate, which got you through. Congratulations on that, by the way.

But let’s assume for a minute you’re like me, and you don’t really want the hate any more, or you never really needed it in the first place. There are lots of reasons to get rid of hate, but the most pressing one for me is that it interferes with my rationality. I like my rationality, and I don’t really like my hate. Another reason for me is that I don’t really like living with it.

Hate is, well, ugly.

So here I am with this hate, it’s taking up space where it’s not wanted, it’s messing with my cognitive ability, so what do I do? It’s been there for long enough that I wonder if it’s powerful and strong. Otherwise, how could it have stayed with me for so long?

Well, it’s not. Hate is weak.

Hate needs to be protected and fed. It has to be gardened and tended. It requires regular application of offense and slight. Of course, hate warps my perceptions to its own end- I begin to believe that other people are feeding it even when they aren’t, or at least aren’t intending to. I feed it myself because hate has convinced me that I want to.

Now if you’re someone who really needs your hate to get by, then by all means keep it. But if you’re like me, and your hate has far outlived its usefulness to you, try this: stop gardening it. Stop protecting it, stop feeding it, and just kind of ignore it. Don’t try to tear it down, don’t try to replace it with anything or transform it into something else, just stop giving it any energy.

A year from now, the person you used to hate will say something shitty to you, and you won’t react. Not even on the inside. As you look forward to this, you will anticipate it with a sense of loss or unfairness. When it happens, you will not miss the hate you used to feel.

You hear they might be putting a Trader Joe’s up on the vacant lot where your hate used to live.

If this is all too metaphorical, let me offer a trick from mindfulness meditation. It’s a fun little hack to try, even if it doesn’t work. When you’re meditating, you try not to think about anything, but at first you’re not very good at it, so you imagine the air coming across the end of your nose. You focus on your breath, on the details of your breath. You are a swinging door, in and out, in and out. Wait, doors are cool, I’ll think about doors. NO! Stop thinking about doors, the breath coming across the end of your nose is everyhing.

Here’s the related trick. You imagine the person you hate, and you start feeding your hate-fire. BUT WAIT! You stop, and you focus on a detail of the person- something he is wearing, something he is holding, the color of his shoes. They are blue. Yes, the color of his shoes. BLUE.

The blue color fills your mind, and it is everything you are thinking about. You love the color blue.

Eventually, you stop thinking about the color blue, because you are hungry, and you go eat a ham sandwich. Your hate has dimmed, and you didn’t do anything to make it happen. You didn’t do anything to make it happen.

YOU DID NOTHING.

WHICH DESTROYED YOUR HATE.

Because nothing is stronger than hate.