“I hate peas.”
“I hate this show.”
“I hate winter.”
“I hate summer.”
“I hate internet trolls.”
“I hate violence.”
“I hate how you treated me.”
“I hate haters.”
Definition of hate (Merriam-Webster)
2: an object of hatred
According to the Criminal Code of Canada…
Sections 318, 319, and 320 of the Code forbid hate propaganda. “Hate propaganda” means “any writing, sign or visible representation that advocates or promotes genocide or the communication of which by any person would constitute an offence under section 319.”
Section 318 prescribes imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years for anyone who advocates genocide. The Code defines genocide as the destruction of an “identifiable group.” The Code defines an “identifiable group” as “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.”
Under section 319, an accused is not guilty: (a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true; (b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text; (c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or (d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.
It seems to me that just as love in our world is portrayed as an easy, pleasure-filled, sugar-injected coma creating a false sense of truth, hate is just as bandied about in our vernacular creating a false sense of what hatred itself actually is.
Do we know what hate is?
I know that when I eat peas, I have a strong aversion to the taste and I want to spit them out. Does that reaction equate to ‘hate’ or ‘hatred’? Have the peas themselves done something to me out of malice or anger to deliberately arouse my taste buds?
Is this hate?
Today the car in front of me pulled a “Lac La Biche-U”. That is, the driver deliberately turned left — across traffic — in order to angle park in the front of the grocery store. I ‘hate’ that! It’s dangerous, irresponsible, reckless (especially on a day with slippery, icy, rainy roads), and it’s disrespectful.
I didn’t know the driver, and I can reasonably assume he chose to pull the U-turn because it suited his own interests rather than deliberately infuriating me.
Is this hate?
I planned a girls’ group a couple of years ago that looked promising as a go. But due to lack of enrolment, we had to cancel it. There were a few community members who were pleased with the cancellation for their own reasons (which were hurtful to me at the time). Supporters told me: “Don’t mind the ‘haters’. If you have haters, it means you’re doing something right.”
Really? Christians use this catch-phrase ad nauseam to justify our actions: if someone opposes us and our lifestyles or actions, it means the ‘hater’ actually hates the goodness and love of Jesus and not really us. If the world hates us, we’re on the right path.
It would do us well to perhaps back the hater-train up and roll into a station of humility.
Is this really hate?
We have muddled our perceptions of hate so dramatically that I believe we sincerely struggle in determining what is real hate, and what is not.
Sometimes we really believe that any opposition to our opinions or convictions qualifies as ‘hate’. In having an admittedly heated conversation with a colleague over LGBTQ+ people and families, he accused me of giving ‘hate-filled diatribes’. I paused for a long moment in that conversation because I don’t recall feeling hate; I don’t recall wishing for the demise of the person in front of me. I was sad, yes. I was hurt, yes. I was tired, yes.
I can honestly say that I wasn’t.
From this man’s perspective, however, my convictions were calling his convictions to task; and for him, this action qualified mine as hateful.
In politics, each extreme side accuses the other of being hate-filled; of being so narrowly focused on its own agenda, that it fails to see the hate that it’s spreading to the community at large. Each side points to the other, and each uses the larger community as a rationale for getting the other side to wake up.
In colloquial culture, it’s acceptable to say “I hate peas” or “I hate winter”. People understand what we mean; some agree, and some disagree. However, when we attribute the heated label of ‘hate’ to inanimate objects or environmental seasons, flouting the term around without understanding its fiery undertones, we make hate and hatred a joke.
Is it any wonder that we can’t recognize true hate when it’s openly upon us?
To hate on anything has become so socially acceptable that we’re often unable to see with liberated and Spirit-filled minds where true hatred begins or where it can possibly end. Without having honest conversations about hate — what it actually is and how it actually works and spreads in our worlds — we will continue to point out what we think is hatred in ourselves and other people, and remain unable to address true hatred festering in our homes, our churches, our street corners and soap boxes, and our selves.
Where do we begin? With dictionary definitions? With legal definitions?
I can begin by chewing on my peas and recognizing that, despite my aversion to them, that they are nutritious for me and that other people do enjoy the flavour.
I can begin my checking my frustration at the poor driver in front of me, knowing that unbridled frustration can be a breeding ground for the beginnings of hatred. If the person did me no harm, I let it go and carry on. If a safety incident needs to be addressed, I park my car and address that incident with compassion and truth.
I can begin by refusing to be baited into conversations about topics that will only trigger sensitive responses in me. Hard conversations need to happen, but perhaps I need to enter into them prepared and with the knowledge that I will not convince ‘the other side’. That side is already convinced of their rightness or certainty. Perhaps I can offer a different way to respond to the world, and that offer is the other side’s decision to accept it or not (just as it is mine). My hurt and pain, like the anger with the bad driver, are justified but left unchecked can breed into justification for hatred.
What about you?
What does hatred look like for you?
How would you begin a conversation about hate and hatred and hating in our world?