Friday, May 15, 2020

The Problem Of Hatred

     Dov Fischer’s remarkable column has been on my mind for a few days now. I’ve been groping for the proper angle on it: on its truths, on its excesses, and on what use can be made of Fischer’s insights without doing undo damage to any innocent.

     If you haven’t yet read it, please do so. I’ll wait here.

     Hatred is dangerous. However, it is also energizing. The core problem of hatred -- much like the core problem of exploiting the energy content of any fuel -- is how to make use of the energies it liberates while consigning the dangerous parts to some form of safe storage. It's a personal problem, and therefore unsolved in the general setting.

     In other words, if you must hate, hate responsibly: i.e., with due attention to confining the unwanted byproducts to your own environs. Physicists know, with a degree of certainty that applies to just about nothing else, that every action has at least one undesired consequence. There is no law of our reality that can be relied upon more confidently than that.

     So let’s explore the undesired consequences and byproducts of hatred.

     Fischer’s article notes the many ways in which the Democrats (and everyone to the left of them) have betrayed America’s laws and the principles of equity on which they’re founded. Each of those betrayals is angering in and of itself. Their cumulative effect is enraging. Fischer penetrates to the core of the thing in two paragraphs:

     There is something so evil in a society that tolerates a dual standard of justice, dual standards of everything. On the one hand, we political conservatives harbor profoundly deep feelings, but we do not destroy people’s lives based on abstract politics. Yes, we oppose them and expose them, and we hope that contemporary society and history judge them for the evil they represent. But we do not destroy them in their lives. They get away with everything. Hillary Clinton spoliated 33,000 emails amid a federal probe, a federal crime that always ends up with prison time — but not for her. It is a federal crime to lie under oath to Congress. Comey, Clapper, Brennan — how have they all avoided prison time? Strzok, Page, the whole bunch of them? Adam Schiff. The outliers on the Mueller team. Not one single slime among them in the swamp has been brought to justice.

     These animals destroyed the life of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. They drove him into such financial ruin that he had to sell his home to pay his legal bills. They went after a good boy, Nick Sandmann, and they cruelly made him into the face of racism. His own Catholic diocese in eastern Kentucky sold him out and sold out all the boys who stood with him that fateful day in Washington, D.C., when he was harassed by a messed-up Indian with a drum. And they did everything they could to destroy Brett Kavanaugh, a good man, a family man, a man who has devoted time throughout his life to his church and to the need. They endeavored through outright perjury to destroy him. The perjurers all got away with it. Name one single perjurer against Justice Kavanaugh who ever was brought to justice by Charles Grassley or Lindsey Graham of the Senate Judicial Committee.

     From those two paragraphs alone, Ecclesiastes would almost certainly agree with Fischer that this is “a time to hate.”

     But what is the central motivation of the man who hates? It is to wreak harm upon the object of his hatred. Unless that harm is:

  • Focused upon its proper target and his misdeeds,
  • Proportional to what that target has done to deserve it,
  • Bounded, so that innocent bystanders are preserved,

     …it cannot be squared with Americans’ concept of justice. It might fit within the protocols of war, with the collateral damage war always inflicts upon the uninvolved and the innocent. But going to war is a step one does not take lightly, specifically because of its lose-lose nature and the collateral damage it will cause.

     The man who hates tends to dismiss those considerations and go directly to war.

     Because hatred is so energizing, it tends to consume the entire attention of the man who hates. It displaces other considerations…sometimes including one’s duties and responsibilities. Even at its least pernicious, it will absorb energy that ought to be reserved for constructive purposes.

     But however justified one is in hating someone or something, that does not exempt him from his responsibilities. Those must always come first. Earning one’s living, caring for one’s dependents and treating them properly, keeping one’s promises, and overall abiding by the Commandments remain paramount, or one quickly descends to the same level as what one hates.

     Christ commanded us to love our enemies and pray for them in part because it helps to detoxify our hatreds. It renders hatred’s energies more susceptible to constructive uses. Yet keeping those constraints uppermost in mind is supremely difficult.

     Finally for this brief essay, hatred is both addictive and infectious. Every surrender to hatred makes future surrenders more likely. Paradoxically and perversely, active hatred makes the hater more attractive to others in certain ways. It makes him appear decisive, resolute, and dynamic. Those around him who are thus attracted are highly likely to catch the hatred-bug for themselves. While the consequences cannot be foreseen in detail, they will surely be negative…and most likely destructive.

     This is not a complete, exhaustive treatment of the problem of hatred. I merely wanted to point out some important directions for my Gentle Readers’ contemplation. But in closing, let us note the role of the world’s major religious faiths in addressing hatred, its objects, and the consequences of acting on it.

     While Christianity reveres justice, it abjures the emotion of hatred completely.
     Judaism, as far as I’m aware, strives to keep hatred within its proper bounds as I’ve delineated them above.
     Of the world’s major faiths, only Islam commands its adherents to hate – and Islam has racked up a body count no other faith can approach.

     That should be enough to think about on a Friday morning in May.

1 comment:


"Christ commanded us to love our enemies and pray for them in part because it helps to detoxify our hatreds. It renders hatred’s energies more susceptible to constructive uses."

Never heard that, but then I'm not a Christian. Thank you for that observation.

Having been an atheist most of my adult life, I am not too familiar with Judaism's teachings on this. I did a quick search on and found this:

I agree with this... to a point. (Like the standard Jewish joke: "One topic, two Jews, in three minutes you'll get four opinions".) But while I don't recall exactly where in Judaism it's from, "Those who are kind to the cruel are cruel to the kind". Similarly, those who tolerate wickedness in government from some, grant permission for wickedness in all.

Either we are a nation of laws, or we aren't. We've always known there's some levels of standards for people who can afford the best lawyers vs. people who can't. E.g., OJ. But the corruption Fischer highlights is intolerable. It's downfall-of-Rome levels.