The Only Way to Eradicate Hate
“There is no hate without fear. . . . We hate what we fear and so where hate is, fear is lurking.”—CYRIL CONNOLLY, LITERARY CRITIC AND EDITOR.
MANY sociologists believe that hate is deeply rooted in the human unconscious. “A large part of it may even be hardwired,” built into the very nature of humans, said a political scientist.
It is understandable that students of human nature reach such conclusions. Their only subjects for study are men and women born “with error” and “in sin,” according to the inspired record of the Bible. (Psalm 51:5) Even the Creator himself, appraising imperfect man millenniums ago, “saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time.”—Genesis 6:5.
Prejudice, discrimination, and their resulting hate are products of man’s inherent imperfection and selfishness. (Deuteronomy 32:5) Sadly, no human agency or government, whatever its policy, has been able to legislate a change in man’s heart on such matters. Foreign correspondent Johanna McGeary remarked: “No globocop, however powerful, can step in to wipe out the hatreds that have made Bosnia, Somalia, Liberia, Kashmir, the Caucasus run with blood.”
Before we start looking for solutions, however, we have to get a basic understanding of what is behind the manifestations of hatred.
Hate Fed by Fear
Hate comes in ever so many shades and forms. Writer Andrew Sullivan summed up the matter nicely: “There is hate that fears, and hate that merely feels contempt; there is hate that expresses power, and hate that comes from powerlessness; there is revenge, and there is hate that comes from envy. . . . There is the oppressor’s hate, and the victim’s hate. There is hate that burns slowly, and hate that fades. And there is hate that explodes, and hate that never catches fire.”
Without doubt, some of the principal factors generating hateful conflict in our times are social and economic. Strong prejudices and outbursts of hate are often to be found in those areas where the group occupying the more economically favored position is in the minority. Also, hate often exists where the standard of living of a section of the community is threatened by an influx of foreigners.
Some may feel that these newcomers will compete for jobs, working at lower wages, or will cause the value of property to decrease. Whether such fears are justified or not is another matter. Fear of economic loss and fear that the standards of the community or of life-style will suffer are powerful factors inducing prejudice and hate.
What should be the first step toward the eradication of hate? A change of attitudes.
“True change can come only from the volition of the peoples involved,” observed McGeary. And how can people’s volition be changed? Experience has shown that the most powerful, most motivating, and most enduring influence against the development of hate comes from God’s Word, the Bible. This is because “the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and their marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.”—Hebrews 4:12.
Admittedly, the uprooting of prejudice and hatred does not occur automatically, nor does it happen overnight. But it can be done. Jesus Christ, the great motivator of hearts and sensitizer of consciences, was able to move people to change. Millions have succeeded in following Jesus Christ’s wise counsel: “Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you.”—Matthew 5:44.
True to his teachings, Jesus included in the group of his most trusted friends Matthew, a former tax collector, one who had been a hated outcast in Jewish society. (Matthew 9:9; 11:19) Furthermore, Jesus instituted a way of pure worship that would eventually embrace thousands of the previously excluded and hated Gentiles. (Galatians 3:28) People from all around the then known world became followers of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:34, 35) These individuals became known for their surpassing love. (John 13:35) When hate-filled men stoned to death Jesus’ disciple Stephen, his final words were: “Jehovah, do not charge this sin against them.” Stephen wanted the best for those who hated him.—Acts 6:8-14; 7:54-60.
Modern-day true Christians have similarly responded to Jesus’ counsel to do good, not just to their Christian brothers, but even to those who hate them. (Galatians 6:10) They are working hard to eliminate malicious hatred from their lives. Recognizing the powerful forces that can engender hatred within them, they take positive action and replace hatred with love. Yes, as an ancient wise man said, “hatred is what stirs up contentions, but love covers over even all transgressions.”—Proverbs 10:12.
The apostle John stated: “Everyone who hates his brother is a manslayer, and you know that no manslayer has everlasting life remaining in him.” (1 John 3:15) Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that. As a result, they are now being integrated—from all ethnic, cultural, religious, and political backgrounds—into one united, hate-free community, a genuine global brotherhood.—See accompanying boxes.
Hate Will Be Eradicated!
‘But,’ you may say, ‘that’s all well and good for the individuals involved. However, this will not make hatred disappear from our earth altogether.’ True, even if you do not have hatred in your heart, you can still be its victim. So we have to look to God for the real solution to this global problem.
God purposes that all vestiges of hatred will soon be removed from the earth. This will take place under the rule of the heavenly government for which Jesus taught us to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 6:9, 10.
When that prayer is fully answered, conditions that foster hatred will exist no more. Situations that exploit it will have been eliminated. Propaganda, ignorance, and prejudice will have been replaced by enlightenment, truth, and righteousness. Then, indeed, God ‘will have wiped out every tear, death will be no more, and neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.’—Revelation 21:1-4.
Now even better news! There is irrefutable evidence that we are living in “the last days.” Thus, we can be confident that very soon we will see ungodly hatred vanish from this earth. (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24:3-14) In God’s promised new world, a genuine spirit of brotherhood will exist because humankind will have been restored to perfection.—Luke 23:43; 2 Peter 3:13.
But you do not have to wait until then to enjoy a genuine brotherhood. In fact, as illustrated in the accompanying accounts, Christian love has already found a place in millions of hearts that could otherwise be filled with hatred. You too are invited to become part of that loving brotherhood!
[Box on page 5]
“What Would Jesus Have Done?”
In June 1998, three white men in rural Texas in the United States attacked James Byrd, Jr., a black man. They took him to a remote, desolate area, beat him, and chained his legs together. Then they attached him to a pickup truck and dragged him three miles [5 km] down the road until his body hit a culvert. This has been dubbed the decade’s (1990’s) most horrific hate crime.
Three sisters of James Byrd are Jehovah’s Witnesses. How do they feel about the perpetrators of this horrible crime? In a joint statement, they said: “Having a loved one tortured and lynched produced an unimaginable sense of loss and pain. How does one respond to such a brutal act? Retaliation, hateful speech, or promotion of hate-ridden propaganda never entered our mind. We thought: ‘What would Jesus have done? How would he have responded?’ The answer was crystal clear. His message would have been one of peace and hope.”
Among the Scriptural references that helped them prevent hate from developing in their hearts was Romans 12:17-19. The apostle Paul wrote: “Return evil for evil to no one. . . . If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’”
They continued: “We recall the realistic statements made in our publications that some injustices or crimes are so horrendous that it will be harder to say, ‘I forgive you’ and just walk away. Forgiveness in such instances could be just letting go of the resentment so that one can move on with one’s life and not become physically or mentally ill because of harboring resentment.” What an eloquent testimony to the power of the Bible to prevent deep-seated hatred from taking root!
[Box on page 6]
Animosity Turned Into Friendship
In recent years, thousands of immigrants have streamed into Greece searching for work. Worsening economic conditions, however, have reduced job opportunities, and this has intensified the struggle for employment. As a result of this, there is great animosity among various ethnic groups. A typical example is the rivalry between immigrants from Albania and those from Bulgaria. In many areas of Greece, intense competition has taken place between people of these two groups.
In the town of Kiato, in northeastern Peloponnisos, a Bulgarian family and an Albanian man started studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and got to know one another. The application of Bible principles melted the animosity that exists between many from these two ethnic groups. It also contributed to a genuine brotherly friendship between these individuals. Ivan, a Bulgarian, even assisted Loulis, the Albanian, to find accommodations next to Ivan’s house. The two families often share their food and their few material belongings. Both men are now baptized Witnesses of Jehovah and cooperate closely in preaching the good news. Needless to say, this Christian friendship does not go unnoticed by neighbors.
[Picture on page 7]
Under God’s Kingdom all vestiges of hatred will be removed from the earth