who do you hate?

Wow… thanks for stopping here. Thanks for reading. For realizing I’m not perfect either, but still feel tugged to talk about an undoubtedly tough topic. “Hate” is a word that repels us. We don’t like it. “Hate” is a word associated with other people — not with ‘me.’ Or we so believe.

Hence, before we wrestle with today’s title question — who do you hate — examining what perhaps we conveniently ignore or believe — let’s parse it out a little.

There are two kinds of hate.

Most of us are most familiar with the first one. It’s hot. It’s the one most obviously recognizable. It’s the one we are quickest to call out in other people. It’s thus the one that paves the way to believe that because our contempt is hot, there exists no hate in self.

“Hot hate” is downright disgust.

It’s loud. It’s clearly visible. It’s the disparaging name-calling by our leaders — the rhetorical, insulting shouts emboldened by cheers. It’s the one that flips off the driver who pulled in front of us — the one where we lay on the horn. It’s the kind of hate that rants on social media. It’s the generous offering of insult or argument — always directed at someone else… that person who gets on our nerves… that group of people who drive us crazy… 

If it weren’t for them, I could succeed… we could succeed.

In other words, “I don’t get you, so I don’t like you.”

Thus, we immediately think of another as lesser. And so we argue, honk, and sternly rebuke only them. Not us. Them.

Then there’s the cool kind of hate. It’s a little more socially acceptable, especially in organizations believing themselves to be of higher ethical or social standards.

“Cool hate” is softer. More dismissive, maybe mockery. It’s sarcasm and snark. It’s the immediate rolling of the eyes when someone says something we disagree with. It’s the satirical meme posted on social media to which we instinctively offer a gentle “like” or admittance of “oh, that’s funny,” convincing ourselves it’s not really hurting anyone.

But yet it is. It’s a sign of contempt.

Knowing that we oft finds ways to ignore said signs, we would be wise to look a little more inward. My sense is we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that we don’t actually hate anyone because we only employ the cool variety. As one who holds the Intramuralist accountable reminded me last weekend, I would respectfully but firmly contend that both kinds are damaging; both qualify as hate. We’re not alone in that thought.

Note the fascinating expert observations of renown therapist John Gottman, as written by Arthur C. Brooks in The New York Times: 

“Cool hate can be every bit as damaging as hot hate. The social psychologist and relationship expert John Gottman was famously able to predict with up to 94 percent accuracy whether couples would divorce just by observing a brief snippet of conversation. The biggest warning signs of all were indications of contempt, such as sarcasm, sneering and hostile humor. Want to see if a couple will end up in divorce court? Watch them discuss a contentious topic — which Mr. Gottman has done thousands of times — and see if either partner rolls his or her eyes. Disagreement is normal, but dismissiveness can be deadly.”

The point is that hate expresses itself as both hot and cold. We tend to justify the cooler of the two, but the problem — and what qualifies each to fall into the contempt category — is that both allow for the lesser thinking of another. Both justify believing that it’s only the other guys who need to change — only someone else who has work to do. Or better yet… it’s only somebody else who needs to realize they’re stupid. Or… something worse.

So two more questions… 

First, humbly asking once more, who do you hate?

And second, when will we realize that honor will always be wiser?