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Hate: Costs and Benefits


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Hate: Costs and Benefits

Commentary by Ernesto Tinajero

In my last post, I introduced an exploration of hate as an idea. We sometimes think of hate as this emotional force that overcomes us. As if we are walking down the street minding our own business, listening to Taylor Swift singing “haters gonna to hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,” and like a vampire, coming upon us with a greeting of “good evening,” before launching onto our neck and sucking out our life and turning us into a creature of the night.

Yet, if hate is an idea, rather an idea that defines our identity, then we can understand how it occurs in our world.  

If we take hate seriously as the idea that life would be better without that certain person or group as I posted before, then hate draws its power, not as a force but as a seduction or temptation.

For us to indulge in hate, we have to get something from it. If, as the song goes, “haters gonna hate,” why? What is in it for the hater? Does hate fulfill something deep within us that draws us toward violence against those we hate?

If hate did not offer us something, it would soon disappear from our world. Would we have any reason to be tempted to hate it didn’t offer us something? So what does hate offer us?

Hate is like a shadow of love as they both provide purpose, community and meaning to living. The communist who hates capitalists has a purpose and a built-in community of those who agree with the need to eliminate capitalists, along with a narrative to justify the violence toward capitalists. Kill the capitalists and all is well. They can cast themselves as the hero against evil.

Hate leads to a type of black-and-white thinking in which we can be the good guys fighting the bad guys. Or as it says in the Old Testament Book of Judges, “doing right in our own eyes.” All we have to do is eliminate the bad guys and all will be well. Such is the Kingdom of Hate. It provides a path to living with purpose, with community and meaning, but it comes with a cost. What is the cost?

When blood stains the soil and we answer the question of our violence with our own question of how are we our brother and sister’s keeper, the cost drains from our veins. Because the purpose, community and meaning are dependent on the object of our hate. If we succeed in eliminating the object, then we have to find another object to hate or the system collapses.

This is the reason the Russian Revolution turned on the supposed counterrevolution elements within the movement with the purges in the 1920s and 1930s. They killed former comrades because they needed to keep alive the purpose, community and meaning.

Mao turned to purges in the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s for the same reason. As the saying goes, an eye for an eye makes the whole blind. 

Hate leads to hell, rejecting Paradise or the Garden of Eden. We get community, purpose and meaning only as long as the object of hate remains.

Once the rock strikes Abel’s head, either the rock must be picked up against another or we become the object of the next strike. The ground crying out for justice drains soil of life. Hate leads to the rejection of life even as it promises a better life that will never be. 

Like always a poem below to express these themes. 

Jerold, the Gerbil of Hate — A Parable / Video by Holy Breath Poet, Ernesto Tinajero

Ernesto Tinajero
Ernesto Tinajero
Art, says Ernesto Tinajero, comes from the border of what has come before and what is coming next. Tinajero uses his experience studying poetry and theology to write about the intersecting borders of art, poetry and religion.


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