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Hating People

Hating People

April 5, 2019 11:28 pmComments are Disabled

Why would you spend any time or energy hating anybody?

I had a classmate I hated once. Really hated. I won’t go into details for obvious reasons, but I so clearly remember the feeling. It was all-encompassing, frustrating hate. I thought about him all the time. Hate not only of who he was and his beliefs and his attitude, but his stubbornness and unwillingness to change. His complete lack of awareness. How could he be like that? I would spend hours complaining to him with a friend who understood.

The reasons I hated him are unimportant, in retrospect. What matters is, it was a complete waste of time. All the time I spent thinking about how terrible he was was time I could have spent having fun with my friends. Instead of tearing him down I could have been building myself up.

I think about hate a lot now, not because I’ve magically managed to become a higher-order zen master and have removed the feeling from my emotional vocabulary, but because I see hate all the time, everywhere. Our entire news cycle, for instance, seems to be dominated by hate. Even the word “nemesis” has been trending.

Hate and anger and jealousy sells really well. It’s a lot easier to get hate to go viral than cuteness. At the same time, it’s a complete waste of energy. Why spend even 5 minutes reading about something some weirdo in Florida thinks? You’re not going to change his mind by arguing with him. You can’t stop him from believing it or silence him through physical force–at least, obviously, you shouldn’t. Plus, maybe you’ve got him all wrong anyway. Maybe he is a victim of abuse. Maybe he has been badly hurt in the past, and maybe this is his way of venting his frustration. Maybe he just saw a tweet from someone he hated, and responded hyperbolically. Maybe if you met him in real life, you would think he was lovely.

Feel free to disagree with who you like. But don’t waste your time investing in hate when there are so many better things to do with your life. Channel your disagreements into positive forces for change: do something about it instead of stewing in anger.

I haven’t achieved zen-level, but I have learned to recognize when my thoughts are being clouded by feelings of resentment and anger. I have learned to turn off the news and most of the media that feeds off of my natural impulse to go tribal and reject those who think differently from me. I have been much happier ignoring sinners against my conscience in everyday life, because they just aren’t worth it.

Yes there are always frustrations and frustrating people. But if you spend any of your precious free time thinking about how terrible someone else is, instead of how great other people in your life are, or what you could be doing to make yourself better, you are doing yourself a disservice. Those feelings will make you bitter and resentful and mess with your judgment. And most of all, they will keep you from being happy yourself. And don’t you owe that to yourself?

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