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“I hate you! Hate you! Hate you!” The deacon’s daughter was expressing her feelings to her father with gusto and high pitched fervor just before church services one day.
The histrionic performance of the five-year-old girl, and her father’s determination to ignore it, gave me a grieving concern for her future.
Hate the Behavior
I know most people don’t agree with me, probably, but I have always felt that to hate a person was to want to kill them.
Hatred belittles the target’s personhood, making them seem like nothing. It removes the need for compassion, for kindness, even for just avoiding the target. It makes room for an unfeeling reaction, usually aimed at securing the absence of the hated one.
Hatred leads to sinful and/or criminal behavior. This is the viewpoint that I taught my children when they were small.
Keep the Good and Encourage It
Now there are personality traits I dislike, for sure. Bossiness, self-centeredness, greediness, whininess – these are all irritating traits that I dislike.
But we all know people who have irritating traits but are certainly worthwhile people — people to be cherished even. The cheek-pinching aunt, for example, can be both loved and amazingly irksome.
But hatred? I reserve hatred for behavior. Kill someone? That’s hate-filled behavior for sure. Bullying someone is behavior that needs to be corrected, even punished, with consistency and fervor.
I hate bullying, but sometimes the bully can turn around and become a decent person, especially if the behavior is punished.
White-collar crimes, defrauding others, theft – punishment is the correct response to these types of behavior. Even still, these are often people who have the possibility of reform.
Every effort should be made to encourage reform.
I feel it is possible to hate the behavior, while leaving room for the person to reform, for most crimes.
Some people do become so involved in self-centeredness that they lose the ability to care about others at all. Unless they are held in check by the fear of punishment, they may never be decent people.
I have known and have been victimized by such people. The best response to this type seems to be a complete and determined retreat from any contact with them.
Even still I try not to hate them, in order to keep my mental focus on the good, not the bad.