Love and hate are not opposites.
There are differences, for sure. One is much more positive (as long as it doesn’t involve stalking), the other much more negative. Both are very powerful emotions and a person can transition from one to the other. The opposite of both is indifference.
I recently ran into an ex-girlfriend and after a brief “hi, how ya doin'” kinda conversation, she said, “you must hate me. I wouldn’t blame you.” I told her that I didn’t, which is the truth. I didn’t tell her that I had really stopped caring some time ago. That would have been mean, and in spite of the fact that she deeply hurt me, I’m not interested in doing that to another person. (I don’t think she knows what my pen name is or that I am a blogger, and she can’t stand politics anyway, so she’ll never see this.)
I’m not confrontational. I love a good debate with a reasonable and intelligent person, but I don’t like to fight and I don’t like to hurt a person – whether physically or mentally. That run-in came to mind tonight as I listened to a few of the folks in my congregation discuss hatred in the modern world amid remembrance for Tisha B’av, a Jewish day of mourning to remember the destruction of both the first and second Temples, among other calamities that have befallen us (notably also the implementation of the Nazi’s final solution).
One brilliant lady said that hatred is rooted in fear. The more I thought about it, the more I agreed. Hatred is a very powerful emotion, one that can stem from love on occasion, but it is almost invariably rooted in fear. The man who stalks his ex-girlfriend is still infatuated with her and fears losing not only the relationship, but the infatuation as well. The woman who throws a brick through a bank window in the name of “the 99%” fears the possibility that it may well be perfectly acceptable for some people to be wealthy and others merely middle class – or maybe even fears that those wealthy people think they are better than she is, whether the belief is accurate or not. The person who reminds me of the brutality committed against Nazi collaborators after WWII before calling me a collaborator and telling me that my time will come fears that there are things he may be wrong about. Those who oppose any form of gay rights, regardless of political affiliation, fear losing their sense of normalcy.
I have said before that the word HATE is badly overused in our society. It is the go-to accusation of all who disagree with someone else. If you’re a Christian and you are against gay marriage, you hate gay people. If you’re a white person who believes George Zimmerman was innocent, you’re a racist – and you particularly hate black people. If you’re gay and you’re talking to a social conservative, regardless of what your personal political stance may be you automatically hate conservative Christians (believe me, I have had that discussion). There have been instances in my life where I have encountered genuine hate. The problem is that most people wouldn’t know what hate is if it broke their nose.
Hate is an extreme word, one that has lost its power through such ridiculous overuse. Just as calling all Republicans Nazis cheapens the genuinely evil things they did, using the word “hate” too often reduces what should be a very strong word to a useless pejorative. It leaves us with nothing else to describe true hate in this world, something that definitely exists, and leaves us unable to identify it. That should give one pause to reconsider their words.