Wednesday, April 10, 2013
To hate, or not to hate
Sometimes people do things to us that make us angry or hurt us. In fact, people do this very often. Always the pain and anger are very real, and are not to be denied. Sometimes our pain and anger is appropriate, and in proportion to the perceived insult and injury; sometimes they are disproportionate, perhaps because we have already been injured in some other way. Either way, the pain and anger cannot be ignored, or simply brushed aside.
It can take a long time to recover from some injuries; sometimes we never fully recover. Some responses are more helpful and constructive than others. Lashing out in retaliation, although the impulse is difficult to resist, and acting on it may make us feel good in the short term, is rarely of any benefit in the long term. More often than not it simply leads to an escalating cascade of violence and recrimination. It adds to our own injury; it can harm us more deeply than the original injury.
It is understandable that we sometimes feel hatred for someone who has caused us serious harm. But this hatred itself can seriously harm us as we try to live our lives. It holds us back, and prevents painful injuries from healing. It becomes a festering cancer within us. Some people construct their entire lives around such a knot of hatred. Most importantly, it allows the person who injured us, often long dead by now, to continue to maintain a strong hold over our lives. They continue to control us, to set the pattern for our lives, even long after they have completely forgotten the incident themselves; even from beyond the grave.
There is no need to forgive someone for a hurt they have done to you, if by forgiveness we imply in any way that their action can be excused, or that they should not be held accountable for their deeds. We should not forgive, if this belittles the magnitude of their offence. What we do need to do, however, is sever their emotional hold over us. As long as we feel an emotion as strong as hatred for someone who has harmed us, we are permitting them to continue to harm us. By all means bring people to justice, to answer for their crimes. By all means, work to see them pay for their crimes. By all means keep the memory of their crimes alive. But let go of the hatred. They do not deserve such power over you.