Friday, December 28, 2012

A note about hate

A quick follow-up to yesterday's post, Becoming what you hate. I think it is important to distinguish between two types of hatred.

It's good, and important, to hate things like injustice, ignorance and superstition. Slavery would still be going strong in the US if there wasn't a critical mass of people who hated it and wanted to put an end to it. Hatred against evil and harmful ideas puts fire in our bellies and gives us the energy to make the world a better place.

Hatred of people is different, however. Are you in a position to hurt the person you hate? No good can come of that, for either you or them. And if not - if you are sitting at home and stewing because Someone Is Wrong On The Internet - you are only going to hurt yourself.

Your hatred has no effect on its intended object - it only harms you, and drains your emotional energy. You should forgive the other person, if only for your own sake. Forgiving them doesn't have to mean feeling warm and cuddly towards them - it means denying them any power over you.

I don't want to hate the people I disagree with. Ideally I should see them as fellow humans, perhaps misinformed and deluded, but subject to the same cognitive biases I am vulnerable to, and perhaps trapped and self-victimized by their hatred of me.

And if someone is truly unpleasant and dishonest, I don't have to respect them, over and above the minimum level of respect that any human being is due. But neither should I give them power over me. If things get to be too much, I can always switch off the computer and walk away for a while. Hopefully I will have more perspective when I return. At the end of the day, it's only pixels on a screen after all.

So that's my resolution for the coming year. Happy 2013!

No comments:

Post a Comment