May 25, 2019

Avoiding Hate

#NoHate

As I have grown older, I have come to realize that I no longer have the time or the energy to hate others. I've learned that hate requires a significant investment of energy and that it has a way of changing those who hate into much of what they claim not to like about the targets of their hatred. I'm not interested in that. And so, I've learned to steer clear of hating others.

Easier said than done, right? That's the strange part. It has not been nearly as difficult as I once would have thought. It has also become easier over time as a result of practice. Avoiding hate used to require a great deal of effort on my part, and it often felt unnatural. It now seems almost routine and feels normal.

So how do I manage to avoid hating others? Here are a few examples of the sort of things I keep in mind that have been helpful to me in avoiding hate, as well as minimizing my involvement in tribalism, polarization, and conflict:

  1. Not everyone who has different priorities than I do is a bad person, and not everyone who believes differently from me is irrational, an idiot, a moron, or a fool. In fact, someone's worth as a human being is not dependent on whether he or she shares my beliefs.
  2. Just because I am mad does not mean I am right.
  3. People are far more than their political orientations, ideologies, or world views.
  4. My first impressions of others are sometimes wrong, and this can lead me to miss out.
  5. The level of confidence I possess as to the likelihood that I am right often has little relationship to whether I am actually right.
  6. Being an atheist, a liberal, and whatever else I am does not give me the right to treat theists, conservatives, and whoever else poorly. Being hated by a few members of a group does not provide me with sufficient justification to hate the entire group. As an adult, I recognize that "he or she did it first" is not a valid excuse for treating someone poorly.
  7. People often grow and change their minds as a result of experience. I'd rather facilitate that process than impede it.
  8. I make mistakes, and I am often wrong; I can grant others the space to do the same.
  9. Some of the people I encounter know less than I do about certain topics; some know more than I do about certain topics. This is not a reason to condemn anyone.
  10. If I truly value reason, I need to be reasonable in my interactions with others.

I don't always get it right (see #8 above), but I have found that keeping these things in mind has been helpful when it comes to avoiding hate, as well as tribalism, polarization, and conflict. I suppose one could say that this is part of what "living your values" looks like for me.