I wrote the following in response to a question by Bullets&Pie on Modernspring, a now defunct website. The question was, “Is Hatred Ever Truly Justified?” I think having a correct mentality on this issue is of prime importance for the issue of capital punishment and the presence of retribution in the penal system in general; it’s all born of hatred. And I see a surprisingly large number of people attempting to philosophically justify and support feelings of retribution. I mean I can understand feeling hatred and vengeance in my heart, but that doesn’t mean I elevate those vile feelings to the level of absolute righteousness. I allow myself to feel those feelings but I keep it on the back burner that eventually I might like to move beyond those feelings and, on some fundamental level, accept the existence of everyone.
I once saw someone define such a thing as “pure hatred”, which means hatred for a something where the best thing for it would be for it to be destroyed. Along similar lines I guess you could argue that some things are just fundamentally evil or against life.
Even if that’s true, many people say that hatred only burns the person hating, so it’s not necessarily wise. And it’s unquestionably a vile emotion.
Some people seem to think it’s the opposite of love, and that therefore you can’t know love without hate, but I disagree. First of all, not all opposites need each other to experience each other.. “up” would still have meaning without “down”, it would be contrasted to “forward” for example, and second of all there are other possible considerations for the opposite of love, such as 1) fear or 2) indifference/apathy. And that’s if love even has to have an opposite, not all things have opposites. Love is much more pure, universal and fundamental than hate. Hatred is probably an emotion limited to beings of a low level of evolution such as humans. You could argue that it’s actually a twisted, inappropriate *distortion* of love, given how fundamental and pervasive love is. Some say all there is is love.
Love is fundamental because it’s related to the unity of all things; love arises from the liminal recognition of such unity. You love someone else because you see the you in them, the same divine spark. At least that’s why you would have compassion for another living being; you can relate their joy and their suffering, and since you like joy you want them to experience joy or comfort too.
You could of course say that you love someone, especially in a romantic sense, for having certain qualities that you may not necessarily have, but if you didn’t recognize them on a fundamental level as being ‘alive’ and ‘conscious’ in the same way you are, you wouldn’t like them in that way for any reason. And also romantic attraction tends to be based highly on “getting things” from someone, at least in our culture, for example you might desire those traits they have because you think you lack them and you think being intimate with them would help fulfill that lack. Neale Donald Walsch says that we often say “I love you very much” when we really mean “I trade you very much.”
Now, even if there is such a thing as “pure hatred” or “true evil” (and there probably isn’t), it’s probable that most hatred is subjective and most evil is subjective. Neale Donald Walsch says that in the eyes of God, everyone is innocent. He says that nobody ever does anything wrong given their model of the world. He says that all attack is a call for help. He also says that we choose what we see as evil, although he says that not to see anything as evil would be the greatest evil of all. I suppose because it’s through contrast to that which is evil that we know ourselves as being good, or at least it is according to Neale.
Those ideas may sound a little extreme, but to put it a little more down to Earth we can at least say that hatred is often based on projection of our own hatred for traits we have ourselves that we negatively judge, and that we often fail to properly understand what’s really in another person’s mind and make up simplified and erroneous stories about it just by trying to imagine what *we* would have to be thinking or what deplorable decisions *we* would have to have consciously made to do ultimately lead us to do what they’re doing. In other words, we’re bad at putting ourselves in others’ shoes (one reason for that probably being that we don’t even consciously try to put ourselves in another’s shoes usually, we just do it on a reflexive level and that makes it extremely rudimentary and inadequate).
I should probably come back to my use of the word “conscious” above: I think a major part of it *might* be that some people make decisions consciously that others make unconsciously, and vice versa, but we fail to realize that people who do evil things never made those decisions consciously like we would have to have given the context of our own psychology, or perhaps even our higher level of self-awareness in some cases. Not to say that’s the only problem, there’s also problems of relativity given by how profoundly different people’s minds and their paths of experience are from each other.
The other important factor here is whether hatred ever actually benefits anything. I’ve mentioned that it doesn’t benefit the holder of the hatred (“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned,” as The Buddha said, and even if it’s expressed as a blind rage rather than being held onto, it’s easy to see that hatred is unpleasant and probably toxic for both parties), but what about the person it’s directed at? If you don’t show them that you hate them in any way, presumably it won’t affect them (I believe it actually does, but that’s another matter), but let’s say you let them know how much you hate them. Does that actually help anything? It certainly won’t make them better people, in fact I was just reading about a study recently:
“In a 1939 study, orphans of varying ages were separated into two groups and given different types of reinforcement and therapy. Each group contained children both with and without speech disorders. The first group received only encouragement whereas the second group received only belittlement. Not only did the children in the “negative” group who’d have difficulties retain their disorders, the others developed speech disorders they’d never had before. This shows that negativity is not only *not* helpful but can actually change someone for the worse.”
Speech impediments aren’t exactly evil, of course, but if everyone’s innocent on an ultimate level then the problem of evil can be considered in the same way. And even if it’s not true that everyone’s innocent on an ultimate level, it’s certainly not far-fetched to say that the effects of negativity on speech impediments could be analogous to the effects of negativity on evil or immorality. Think of it this way: if a person is hated on constantly, or even hated on at all, they’re going to empathize with that view of themselves (we’re human, we can’t help but empathize with others’ viewpoints) and internalize it, at least to some degree, so they’re going to fall even further into that role of being a “bad person,” and probably when it comes to a lot of moral decisions where they can take the high road or the low road, they’ll be more likely to just say, “fuck it.” They’re a bad person anyway so why try.
Some people may argue that, because that person is evil or did something evil, they “deserve” to be punished (such as by being hated on, in this case), even if that punishment doesn’t help them in any way. But think about it: what does “deserve” actually mean? On what philosophical basis can we justify the notion that anyone ever “deserves” something bad to happen to them? The notion really only boils down to nothing other than a vile emotion on the part of the issuer. It’s literally a form of schadenfreude.
If there’s any good and logically justifiable meaning for the word “deserve,” then it’s really that people “deserve” whatever’s best for the universe at large. And whatever’s best for the supposedly evil person is generally what’s best for the universe at large, because a) they’re part of the universe, the divine spark, just as we are, and their joy adds to the total joy of the universe and their sorrow adds to the total sorrow of the universe; everyone’s experience adds to the experience of the universe as a whole; and b) that which helps the supposedly evil person evolve in a positive way (which we’ve established is the opposite of issuing negativity toward them), helps the universe as a whole because the better a person they are the more they’ll be auspicious to every other being in the universe down the road.
So, given that hatred helps neither the hater nor the hated, and given the extreme subjectivity of what’s actually evil and therefore (supposedly) warrating hatred, I’d say that hatred is probably, either in general or in all cases, inauspicious, which makes it unjustified. We’re all mired in emotional filth in this world, in a big cesspool of poisonous emotional interaction, and hatred not only is a symptom of this fact but also helps to perpetuate it. It causes cycles and chains of hatred and retribution and also of negative karma.
Regarding the teachings of Neale that I mentioned, I realize I sound like I’m just proselytizing some random author’s ideas without any justification, but I mean for them to be weighed on their own merit independently of the fact that I cite a source. But it’s not really only that; I also have great reverence for that particular source and so I wish to tie in the credibility of that source with whatever credibility I have myself.
Most of the things I mentioned above that Neale says were purportedly words from God himself, and for reasons I won’t get into unless you ask me about them, I believe they actually were. (I realize you probably don’t believe in God or at least see no compelling reason to, but that’s a debate for another time.:))
— Conversation between me and Bullets&Pie that ensued —
Bullets&Pie: What a spectacular answer. Thank you so much for taking the time to type this, your responses are always so well thought out! And I’m actually mostly agnostic so I believe in the possibility of a higher power but not necessarily the god that everyone is so familiar with in modern religion. Why do you think those words were from god?
ColorStorm: I’ll be busy for a few hours so I’ll answer than a little bit later, but in the mean time here’s a link to a video I just remembered about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIkywrKVWAo (regarding the subject of hate, not God)
Bullets&Pie: Wow. That’s mind-boggling.
ColorStorm: very moving.
ColorStorm: To answer your question about why I believe the words are from God..
ColorStorm: I’m really good at seeing all of the subtle flaws and shortcomings of people, like in their writings, on the conceptual level, on the level of actual motivations and intentions, on the level of grammar and whether they choose the best possible word for the job, etc.. and the parts in Neale’s books where God speaks, it’s absolutely flawless. In all of those senses. That’s more an unusual occurrence as far as I’m concerned than you might realize. I’ve literally never encountered any text so flawless in my life
ColorStorm: or speech
ColorStorm: so it makes sense that the explanation for that fact would be that ti’s actually God talking as is the premise of the books.
ColorStorm: I mean obviously someone who’s trying to channel God is going to sound as perfect as possible, but this is a matter of subtle things, unconscious motivation, cognitive perfection and talent and grace at using language that you can’t do just by wanting to. and people want to sound perfect all the time after all.
ColorStorm: Furthermore, the ‘energy’ behind the text, as in the messages it contains and the style, or maybe simply something spiritually tacked onto the text directly, was absolutely, 100% pure in my perception. it was so pure and neutral that it was almost unworldly
ColorStorm: i don’t know if i should say it was 100% neutral, because it wasn’t exactly indifferent, or he wouldn’t have had a reason to say anything, but it was neutral of biases or all but the most sublime energies or whatever
Bullets&Pie: Hahaha geez, now you’re making me want to read his work!! I’m officially intrigued!
ColorStorm: I’d start with Conversations with God book 1. That’s the beginning of the whole dialogue, it lays out all the fundamentals, and it’s one of his best books.
ColorStorm: I’ll give the caveat that I think Neale was a little biased toward seeing everything in the most positive possible light. My friend who’s also a fan of the book and believes it’s made with the aid of God seems to think some parts of it are outright false. This may be possible because, as God says in the book, Neale is a filter (in his capacity of being a vessel for God). “The mesh is very fine, but you are a filter nonetheless.”
ColorStorm: Some of the ideas in the book that I latched onto in the beginning I’ve started to grow more skeptical of. But still, it’s a great book, maybe just don’t necessarily take it without some kind of discernment, like I pretty much did.
ColorStorm: Or maybe you’ll find taht you love all of the ideas in the book, that’s fine too. =)
Bullets&Pie: That’s awesome, thanks for the intel! I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled next time I go to the book store ^^
Since I mentioned the implications of this on capital punishment, here are some things I posted on Facebook more recently in response to somebody’s question about the issue, specifically regarding the case of Dylann Roof.
I don’t know who Roof is, but I’m against the death penalty for a couple of reasons. One is that we don’t even understand the nature of life or death well enough for it not to be arrogant and playing God for us to sentence people by means of death.
Another is that it’s based purely on revenge/retribution. I don’t believe vengeance/retribution should have any place in justice, it’s just a vile emotion and practically a form of schadenfreude. I can’t even remotely believe that the actual best thing to do for all involved is ever to hurt someone just for the sake of making them suffer or be damaged (death being the ultimate form of damage).
There’s no such thing as what somebody “deserves”, except insofar as everybody always deserves what’s best for them and everybody else.
Whatever someone is or does, there are reasons for that. We should strive to understand that rather than allowing our hearts to feel hatred. Mike Dooley put it well in ‘Choose Them Wisely: Thoughts Become Things!”:
Have you ever wondered how you might behave in someone else’s shoes? If you have, you’ll likely admit that this kind of thinking is usually critical of the person of the person you’re thinking about. The truth is, you are the other person, and they are behaving exactly as you would if you were indeed in the exact same shoes–however inconsiderate, abusive, outrageous, or immoral their behavior is.
True, you are probably more thoughtful, fearless, loving, and honest than those who disappoint you. But you are also at a different point in your journey, maybe “more advanced,” or maybe just more at ease for having chosen a less “challenging” path. We’re all of “one,” exhibiting different colors of the same light, and rather than passing judgment, it’s best to remember that each of us is just doing the best we can.
Now that I know what Dylann Roof did and what he said, I just want to say that I still don’t see him as so evil that I just want to kill him. I just see him as a very angry person who’s full of hatred and conviction. I know people say this a lot in a passive-aggressive way, but I really mean it: I feel about as much bad for him for living in the state of mind he’s living in as I feel disgust. Of course, I also feel bad for all the people who died by his hand, it’s not like he’s more important than the 9 or so people he killed just because he’s nevertheless worthy of compassion.
I won’t feel happy when he dies, I’ll just feel like another flame has been extinguished. He’ll no longer have the opportunity to better himself, to grow past his hatred, to feel or express remorse or make amends for those wrongdoings he did. He’ll no longer have the opportunity to aid humanity in its eternal seeking of itself. Even now, what he did is simply an expression of one of the many possible modes of being human, thus he’s participated in the dance of life, and if he’s performed any more specifically functional purpose it’s to help show humanity to itself. Like Hitler and the Nazis did, etc.
David Peterson: He won’t ever feel remorse… I think your outlook on all humans being inherently ‘good’ and wanting to strive to be ‘good’ is misguided. He knew what he was doing.
Also if I felt bad for everyone who wasn’t mentally sound, I myself would be driven insane.
He has clearly demonstrated that he wants to be treated the way he treated others… To death
ColorStorm: He may not. I wasn’t assuming he probably would, just saying that now he won’t even have the opportunity. I think heinous criminals often end up showing remorse, and if not that, then at least reflecting for a long time and coming to better terms with what they did and who they were.
Not all humans strive to be ‘good’, of course, most don’t really reflect enough to consciously better themselves i guess, but doing something terrible that everybody hates you for and spending time in prison for it has a way of making one reflective.
i think we can have compassion for those we think of as evil without going insane. i can’t really speak for you, of course, but it’s not like i go so far as to cry over him, or that i cry over many people every day. and even going so far as not to judge and condemn someone, without necessarily feeling bad for them, is a positive step and it’s hard to see how that would be anything but psychologically positive.
i’ve seen a couple of people say he clearly demonstrated that he wants to be killed. what exactly did he say that indicates that? is it just because he expresses absolutely no remorse and is honest about his intentions and told the jury not to listen to the lawyers’ bullshit? that’s not the same as wanting to die. and if he does want to be treated reciprocally, that could just be a compounding of errors, self-judgement and condemnation in addition to, perhaps as an internalization of, exterior judgement and condemnation, or at least it would be out of a naive sense of justice and reciprocation/fairness that’s common to current culture.