If You Have No Home for Hate, You Have No Home for Love Either

If You Have No Home for Hate, You Have No Home for Love Either

By Elizabeth Harper

Am I the only one who keeps thinking that anger and hate are not the real problems, but rather bad ideologies, parochial attitudes, systemic violence, entrenched sexism, institutional racism, shortsighted capitalism, etc. are the issues we should be addressing?

Are anger and hate supposed to be shorthand for those things that everyone is supposed to know?

But anger and hate are good things, evolutionary adaptations, there to warn us and protect us.

What are we telling people to do when we tell them not to be angry and hate? Aren’t we telling them to deny something intuitive and integral to their very selves? Where is that anger and hatred going to go? You can’t snap your fingers and make it go away. You can’t stop being angry and hating just because someone else tells you to. Or at least I can’t.

Try to expel hate, and it will wander, scavenging for scraps, surviving by any means necessary, wounds festering, world-weariness feeding a determination that has become destiny, identity, a crutch to lean upon while staggering on, surrounded by chaos.

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I think people do try to stop their anger and hate — squash it or kill it or eat it or drink it away. They think it is somehow unacceptable to feel anger and hate. But, when under attack, that anger looks for somewhere to go. It hangs itself on these bad ideologies, inadequate understandings. If it can be construed as morally justified, then it can exist. Even though the moral principles and ideologies are woefully inadequate, illogical, inconsistent, ill-equipped to serve, because the real reason for them is to give some ideological justification for the anger and hate. So rather than just experiencing the anger and hate for what it is, a warning system telling them that something feels wrong or uncomfortable, people find a moral scaffolding to hold it up and help it persist.

Anger and hate should not be squelched. They should lead us to ask, “What's wrong?” and “What's not working?”

Is it hate or business as usual?

Prisons, detention camps, bombings, wars…. Are these acts of hatred, or systemic racism and xenophobia? Is it hate or the military-industrial-congressional complex? Is it our fear, and our hatred of what we believe to be the source of that fear — threats to people and ideals we hold dear — that allows us to tolerate resources being used for weapons and war, that allows politicians to sell us on the idea that a strong military with an increasing budget needs to be fed with our tax dollars, while people in our country and all over the world struggle to get their basic needs met and human rights respected?

(And if you don’t like the terms I’m using, that’s fine. If you don’t think there’s any kind of industrial complex or such a thing as human rights, that’s fine. I’m not attached to those terms, and everything is debatable. But I think it’s worthwhile to ask the question, “Are all individual humans deserving of some kind of respect and consideration, or are we all fine with them being pawns and collateral damage of the machinations of politicians and the bureaucratic and economic interests they serve?” Or however you want to articulate the question. I’m not picky. My point is something’s there to at least think about and consider.)

Are anger and hatred the problems? Or is it a failure to ask questions and think critically about ideas, systems and practices we take for granted?

While people are bombarded with ideological crap about hard work, they watch the American Dream slipping away, their aspirations becoming farther and farther out of reach. No way to feel secure, to plan for the future. Circumstances change at the whims of governmental, financial and intellectual elites. The consequences filter down through employers and bureaucracies. They realize they're at the mercy of fads, caprices and financial maneuverings. So how are people supposed to strategize? There is no security. Only calculated risks. People make their bets the best way they can, but none of us are in control of the roulette wheel.

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Economic motivations led to horrors such as witch trials and slavery and war and genocide, but so often we talk as if the cause was mere prejudice or “hate.” Hate was conjured using targeted rhetoric by those who saw how to benefit and gain power from the unease of the masses looking for scapegoats for their suffering or a group to feel superior to. Hate functioned as both motivation and symptom, the fuel that kept the train moving, but not the instigating cause or the train itself.

Name what you hate. Be angry. Hate. Be really specific about what you’re angry about and what you hate. You have to name a problem before you can even attempt to fix it. And you might not ever be able to fix it. But there is power in describing reality, articulating truth.

Go ahead and hate your rapist
Go ahead and call out a friend…

We’re not all going to agree. We’re not going to have unity. We’re not all going to like each other. We’re going to have opposing views, irreconcilable differences.

It’s not mere hate. It’s a serious conflict of interests.

Hate is not the problem and love won’t fix it.

I love to hate. I’m convinced that hating serves a useful, healthy, protective purpose in my life. And by accepting that hating is something I love to do, I believe I am able to diffuse and prevent any potential harmful consequences of hating.

I hate the government, and I hate the politicians who lie to all of us from our TVs and Facebook feeds. I’ll tell anyone who asks me how much I hate those liars. I hate the courts and the prisons. I hate the health insurance companies who won’t pay for treatments for people who diligently pay the high premiums. I hate all the rules and regulations we have to navigate to get anything done. I hate war. I hate the police who scare and hurt and imprison and kill people.

Hate hate hate. I’ll hate them all effing day long. And I have my reasons which I will go on about at length if you buy me a beer and give me a chance to speak. But I’m not going to shoot or hurt anybody. If a uniformed police officer comes to a place where I’m working or playing, I’ll do the very best I can and treat them with all the respect I can muster, just like I would for anybody. I hate all the religions that discriminate against LGBTQ people and try to diminish and control women. But if I encounter people wearing hair coverings or burkas or crosses or any variations of stars, I’ll be nice to them too and treat them like the individual human beings they are. I’ll even be polite to politicians and media personalities. Because the problems are bigger than any one of us, bigger than any demographic or identity group.

And if we can’t hate the institutions and ideologies that oppress us, if we can’t tell the truth about how our suffering and pain make us angry, we won’t be able to love ourselves or each other.

Life After Hate

Life After Hate

Notes from the Post-It Wall — Week of February 4, 2018

Notes from the Post-It Wall — Week of February 4, 2018