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What is hate? Have you ever thought about what this word really means?

The Oxford dictionary says that hate means this:

“Intense dislike: feelings of hate and revenge… Denoting hostile actions motivated by intense dislike or prejudice… A hate campaign … An intensely disliked person or thing” 

What do people hate?

A website published a list of 20 things that everyone hates. Here are some of them – see if you agree!!

1. Traffic
2. Alarms in the morning
3. Snoring
4. Washing Up
5. Low battery on your phone
6. Making small talk (talking without any purpose in social situations)
7. Sweating
8. People interrupting you
9. Queuing
10. Dentists

I’m sure that many people would have other things they hate!

The trouble with the word ‘Hate’ 

The thing about the word ‘hate’ is that it can be abused. People can claim that others are full of hate when they are not. Sometimes we hear about people being ‘full of hate’ but actually all they are doing is expressing a different opinion. A difference of opinion is not usually hate.

The Big Issue (Issue #1342, pages 24-25) ran an interview with Hédi Fried who was at Auschwitz during the Nazi Holocaust of World War II. In the interview with the Big Issue she said this:

“Hate is a natural reaction to being wronged… However, you do not get very far with hatred, it is very counterproductive. Hatred does not affect the hated, but the one who hates feels terrible. It arouses vengeful feelings and if these are acted upon the hated will soon become the one who hates. It leads to a never-ending spiral of hatred.”

The Big Issue (Issue #1342, 21-27 January 2019, pp 24-25, interview with Hédi Fried)

True Story: I saw a debate on TV where Person 1 accused Person 2 of hate because they said something that Person 1 disagreed with. Person 1 was full of rage and anger, their face was twisted, they were pointing their finger, shouting and accusing Person 2 of hate. Meanwhile Person 2 was sat there saying nothing but listening quietly! I know which one I think was full of hate!

If we misuse the word ‘hate’ then we can end up creating hate by creating tension and anger in places where it wasn’t there. This often comes through misunderstanding

True Story – One day at school, a girl was very angry and upset because she’d heard that another girl had said something about her. She was very threatening, calling them names and saying she’d get them. But it turned out the other student didn’t say anything about her at all and it was sorted out. 

True Story – One time I was working for the council. A man came in one day and he was swearing and shouting and threatening to beat someone up because he had received a bill to pay some money. He was angry, banging his fist, pointing his finger saying he wouldn’t pay it. I calmly said, “no problems, let me have a look for you.” I looked at the bill and realised it wasn’t a bill but a refund – the council was giving him £75! I told him it was a refund and he totally changed and said, “oh thanks very much mate” and walked off!

If we call people full of hate when they are not then we can also start to create discrimination and equality in places. Then we can become the problem and not part of the solution. This is almost worse than standing up against actual hatred.

So in our two examples, the student who’d heard something started to stir up other girls against the girl she thought had said something bad about her. So other students started getting angry – the wrong thinking meant that more hate was created.

In our second example, the man came in thinking he needed to pay £75. He had probably been slagging off the council, telling people how they were useless. But this wasn’t true. When he came in he realised he was being paid £75. 

Sometimes, people deliberately stir up hatred, looking for a fight. We see this in the world of football hooliganism and with gangs. In the USA in May 2015, a biker gang fight started and ended up with 9 people being shot dead. Even though this was just because of a parking space, the hatred between the gangs was so strong that a small thing lead to 9 dead and people being injured. 

Hate doesn’t get us anywhere – nor does saying that other people are full of hate.

Are there things that we should hate?

But are there things we should hate? Maybe hate is the wrong word because this is negative. Instead we should be positive and stand up to some things where people abuse others.

In World War 2 as we read earlier with the comments from Hédi Fried, Hitler killed many people simply because they were Jewish (around 6 million). This was called The Holocaust. In other countries today, people are killed by extremists because they are not the right religion (as in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and many countries) or (as in North Korea among many places) because they do have a religion.

Children around the world die because of poverty. UNICEF (run by the United Nations) say that someone dies every 3.6 seconds because of starvation – usually a child under 5. More than 1 billion children don’t have what they need to live, be healthy and develop. There are people who make money from the suffering of others – like people smugglers and sex traffickers or companies that abuse the poor by paying them nothing much for working long hours every day in terrible conditions.

We can take action in all these things by giving money or emailing our MP. But all these are big things that we can’t solve overnight. But there are things we can do to help make the world a better place.

1. We can stand up for people who are bullied
2. We can make sure that we don’t take out our frustrations on other people
3. We can forgive other people when they do wrong
4. We can sorry to others when we do wrong
5. We can try hard not to do things that hurt other people
6. We can say encouraging things to other people not nasty things
7. We can actually choose not to hate people
8. We can decide not to react hatefully when people disagree with us

Do What Jesus Did

Here’s a summary of the life of Jesus from the Bible –

“Jesus arrived from Nazareth, given power and authority by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the Devil. He was able to do all this because God was with him.”

Acts 10.38, The Bible

The only people that Jesus was harsh on were those who were in power and authority and tried to abuse their power by pushing people down, robbing people, hurting people and trying to make themselves look good and to keep themselves in power. It was all about them and not about helping others.

Christians believe that only Jesus has the power to really change your life for good. Why? Because everything else in the world tells us that we can control our life or that we should do certain things to make everything better. And this can be helpful. But Christians believe that it’s not the outside bit of us that needs help, it’s our heart and mind – it’s what goes on inside us that is the problem. Christians believe that Jesus changes us from the inside and then this reflects what we do on the outside. The Christian life is one of helping others, serving others and loving others.

Whatever you believe, what kind of person will you be? 

Someone who goes around doing good or someone who goes around doing nasty things? 

It’s like a wall – will you be someone who helps build the wall? Or someone who smashes down the walls of hate?