Monday, February 06, 2006

The opposite of hate

This week the subject in Sunday school was love and hate.

One of the kids has a friend who thinks you can’t have love without hate. But is that really the case?

What is hate anyway? I wrote a bit about what is love the other day, so this discussion felt a bit like a follow up. I think hate falls in the same category as cold or dark. These things are only words to describe the absence of something else. Cold, as that fictional account attributed to Einstein says, is the absence of heat. Dark is the absence of light. As my friend Mario says, we don’t ever turn on the darkbulb. When light or heat are on the scene, dark and cold are wiped away. They don’t even put up a fight. They just can’t exist in the presence of the other.

So what is the one thing that wipes away hatred? I have to say that I don’t think it’s love. I think love has a different role in this equation. It’s the catalyst that motivates us to find the opposite. But to me, the opposite of hate is understanding.

I’ve found that it’s impossible to hate when I’ve taken the time to understand someone. To empathize with their point of view, to see things from their perspective. I may still not like what they’re doing and I may still want to stop them, but I don’t hate them anymore.

To me, it’s understanding on a human level that wipes away hate. And we’re motivated to gain understanding of the other by the fact that we’re the image and likeness of divine Love, which knows no hate.

But there’s also understanding on a spiritual level. One of my favorite sections in Science and Health is the scientific translation of mortal mind.

Hatred is in the first degree, depravity. Compassion and such like is in the second degree, and that’s where I’d put human understanding, or empathy. Spiritual understanding is in the third degree, the apex of the translation out of mortality. Note the headings in the margins: unreality, transitional qualities, reality. Hatred is nothing, and we transition out of it to the reality of spiritual understanding—and love.

To truly understand another spiritually is to see them as Love’s perfect creation despite what they may be doing or saying. Despite how we might disagree with them or how they irritate us. To see the disagreement or irritation as temporary, not a part of our spiritual natures, and to cease reacting to them. Instead, choosing to respond to the truth about the other, and to love unconditionally.

No one said this was easy. But it gets easier if we make it a habit. I’m reminded of when I was about eight, and my big sister told me that if I hated so-and-so from school, I couldn’t really love Mom. She was making the point that any hate at all in our thinking makes us incapable of totally loving even those most dear to us. This shocked my grade-school sensibilities, because I knew I loved Mom. And I wanted to love her as best as I could. So I made it a habit then and there to eject hate from my thinking whenever it came up. The only way I could do this was by letting the Love that I was trying to express lead the way to understanding of those who had raised my ire.

I’m grateful to my sis for her insight—I became a little less self-centered that day. I still think her point is valid. To get rid of hate, we need to turn on understanding, powered by the energy of Love.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 2/06/2006 06:41:00 PM, Anonymous franklin said...


Seems to me that to even think of understanding a person who one hates is already showing that love is present.

I agree with you on understanding.

It can turn an enemy into a friend.


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