All around me, I see and hear people arguing and fighting with each other. We even hear of it among our own government (if you live in the U.S, though it does happen in other countries too)! People’s souls, around us, are being wounded and degraded at an alarming rate. It’s everywhere—the curse of hatred.
Some people have given up the fight against hatred. They aren’t used to anything different. They have either succumbed to it themselves, or have given up trying to change the world for the better. I am telling you, though, that one day when everything is made right again with this world, hate will be defeated and conquered. Love will rise again!
In the meantime, we must not give up fighting against all forms of hatred, big and small. The change starts with us, in our own souls and our own lives. Here is what I learned about conquering hatred:
- Aim for kindness.—Someone once said, “Be kind. Everyone around you is fighting a harder battle.” How true that often is. We sometimes don’t even know what our own family members are thinking or feeling! How much less do we know about the inner lives of our friends and acquaintances, and the people in our community that serve us? This is why we should aim for kindness always. Sometimes, a person may be in a bad mood and (wrongly) take it out on us because he or she may not know another, more appropriate way of expressing how they feel, but we still must not hurt them back, though, we often do. We can make a greater, more positive difference if we showed compassion to our fellow human beings even when they aren’t treating us as we think they should.
We can aim for kindness in these two ways:
- We can be kind in our attitudes and words: In Proverbs 23: 7, of the Bible, it says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” which means that you are what you think. So, when we strive to think kind thoughts about others, we will naturally want what is best for them and be encouraging to them by affirming their worth and their good qualities. However, if we have negative, hateful thoughts about others, our words and actions will also indicate that. We also can be kind in our attitudes when it is more difficult to do so. For instance, if you have to do what you think is a “thankless” task at work, instead of grumbling and complaining to others about the job you have to do, you can strive to do it with heart and with joy, knowing that you are serving for a higher purpose.
- We can be kind in our actions: In my job (retail), ways I aim for kindness are, for example, when a customer is carrying a lot of things in their hands, I always offer to get them a shopping cart. This way they don’t have to carry everything in their hands and have to put it somewhere, and have the hassle of then getting a cart for themselves. I also strive to go the extra mile to look for something for a customer, so they can find what they need for their lives. Sometimes, I help the custodians clean a messy area in the break room, not so I get recognized, but so the custodians do not have to be overwhelmed and burdened by so much work. I also do it as a way to thank them for the job they do for us. I also strive to smile and maintain a joyful attitude. Outside work, one may be kind in our actions by visiting a sick friend or neighbor in the hospital, feeding the homeless, or even helping a family member with a tough task before they even ask us to do said thing.
2. Forgive others quickly.—When someone hurts you, I would recommend not harboring bitterness and/or anger towards that person for more than a week because after that this negative spirit starts poisoning your soul and those around you. When I didn’t follow this directive in the past, I found that a negative and jaded spirit did start to form inside me. Not only that, but this anger and bitterness stunted my spiritual growth and kept me from growing closer to God and becoming the person He (and I) wanted me to be. See Cultivating Peace After Conflict post for more information on resolving conflicts quickly and peaceably.
Why do more people not resolve their bitterness more quickly? I think it has to do with our misconceptions about what forgiveness really means. Here is what I learned about what forgiveness is and isn’t:
- Forgiveness is not excusing the offender’s actions.
- Forgiveness does not require amnesia of what had happened to you.
- Forgiveness does not require reunion.
- Forgiveness is letting God deal with the justice, and trusting Him to deal with the offender, rather than you being the judge and jury.
- Forgiveness is ridding yourself of your hate, bitterness, resentment and anger towards the offender for your sake, so you can be at peace.
- Forgiveness should be done also for your sake, not just the offender’s.
3. Stay away from all forms of hate.—Another thing we can do to conquer hatred in our lives, is to make sure we are not influenced to hate from outside sources, whether it be media, other people, or in other ways.
First of all, I would recommend keeping positive company. This means limiting your time with people who are negative influences on you or who influence you to hate other people. Also, limit contact with people who constantly cut you or others down. Instead, spend time with people who love others and who are a joyful and positive influence on your life.
Second of all, I would not go to websites, or read literature, listen to music, or watch anything promoting the hatred or the devaluation of other people. For instance, it is one thing to read hateful literature because you are required to for a research project, but do not willingly read hateful literature for your own entertainment or curiosity. Even if you are required to read something controversial or hateful for a school project, be careful you are not being influenced by any hateful ideas or beliefs that the author may have.
Lastly, when you see people hate each other or speak hateful or malicious words to another, lovingly, but firmly, call them out on it. Counter their hateful words, but do not get sucked into hating them yourself!
If we all (me included) followed these three main directives in conquering hate in our lives, I believe we would be much better as a society. As Ghandi famously said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Let’s be that change today, and love others lavishly and wholeheartedly!