When Hate Is Folly
IS NOT hate always folly, always unwise, always wrong? Not necessarily. When Abraham Lincoln saw slaves for the first time he was filled with hate for slavery. That hate eventually produced the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all the slaves in the Confederate States were to be freed.
The hate for religious hypocrisy that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, expressed when on earth has served to put his followers on guard ever since. (Matt. 23:13-33) Similarly, the hate that the judicial committee of a Christian congregation has for gross immorality causes them to excommunicate, disfellowship the wicked man from among themselves.’ Well, therefore, do the Scriptures state that the fear of Jehovah, which makes one truly wise, “means the hating of bad.”—1 Cor. 5:13; Prov. 8:13; 9:10.
So there are times when hate is both wise and right. This is what the oft quoted statement of the Bible says: “For everything there is an appointed time . . . a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”—Eccl. 3:1, 8.
The very fact that God hates certain things and certain kinds of people shows that hate is not always folly. He does “hate all those practicing what is hurtful,” and he hates such things as “lofty eyes, a false tongue, and hands that are shedding innocent blood.”—Ps. 5:5; Prov. 6:16-19.
Fittingly, God’s Word counsels us to hate what God hates: “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad.” The Scriptures quote with approval what King David of ancient Israel said: “Do I not hate those who are intensely hating you, O Jehovah? . . . With a complete hatred I do hate them.” Does this mean that we should react violently toward those who practice bad things? No; the Bible counsels us not to get heated up at injustices and not to render evil for evil.—Ps. 97:10; 139:21, 22; Rom. 12:17-21.
But imperfect human nature, being what it is, is more prone to hate than to love and so most of the time, when men hate, it is indeed folly. Hatred is folly when it controls us instead of our controlling it. It is folly when it is based on ignorance, on lies, on prejudice, when it is irrational (when it flies into the face of reason). Hate might be likened to fire. Fire can serve ever so many good purposes when it is kept under control. But when it gets out of hand, what havoc it can wreak in destruction of lives and property!
Today the world is filled with uncontrolled bonfires of hate. Conditions may be bad, but hate makes them worse. Consider the burned-out sections of such places as Watts, California; Washington, D.C.; Newark, New Jersey; Brooklyn, New York—all the work of hate. Militants, whether white or black, preach hate and incite others to violence. Typical is the poem that Black Panthers teach children: “Kill the pig [their name for a policeman] upon the hill; if you won’t the Panthers will.”
True, this is hate due to racial discrimination and other injustices practiced against blacks over long periods of time. But does the killing of white and black policemen improve matters for anyone—either for whites or for blacks? No more than does the senseless burning down of black and white stores and dwelling places. As Professor Marie Syrkin of Brandeis University warned: “No social problem will be more rapidly solved through the calculated transformation of the chief sufferers into beings who wantonly rob and kill. Evil conditioning can only make evil conditions worse.”
Bearing this out were some statistics published in the New York Times, February 14, 1972. Among other things, these showed that for 1971 the homicide rate for Central Harlem, where such militants abound, was 328 times as high as in Kew Gardens in the Borough of Queens, which is largely Jewish but by no means a segregated community. In Central Harlem not only a few policemen but ever so many black residents were murdered.
Hate, when not based on righteous principles, is also folly in that it hurts the hater himself, both mentally and physically. As one psychiatrist put it: “It is easier to hate, but healthier to love.” According to a team of specialists, ‘whether a person falls ill physically or mentally seems to depend on the quantity of guilt, anxiety and hate in his personality.’
Can we learn not to hate when hate would be folly? Yes, and one way is by thought control. Discipline yourself not to dwell on the wrongs and frustrations you suffer. Displace negative thoughts with thoughts of things that are lovable and well spoken of.—Phil. 4:8.
Another help is reason. It will enable you to see how senseless it is to hate persons because of difference in skin color, nationality or religion. The hate that certain Moslems and Hindus have for each other, certain Jews and Arabs have for each other, certain Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland have for each other, as well as some whites and some blacks have for each other, is irrational. No one group is all good or all bad.
Faith in God will also help one to keep from hating when it is folly. How so? Because this leaves it up to God to settle matters. That is the way David of ancient Israel felt about it when urged by a close friend to kill his persecutor Saul on one occasion.—1 Sam. 26:8-11; Rom. 12:19.
And, above all, the very antithesis of hate—unselfish, principled love—will enable you to avoid the folly of hating when it is not the time to hate. Love, we are assured, ‘takes no account of the injury.’ More than that, ‘it bears, hopes and endures all things,’ and even ‘covers a multitude of sins.’ It works no ill to its neighbor; it does not retaliate with violence.—1 Cor. 13:4-8; 1 Pet. 4:8; Rom. 13:8-10.
Yes, there is a time to love and a time to hate. Happy is he who can discern when it is the time for each and who is able to act according to what is wise, loving and right.