By Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.
“People have so much capacity for hate.”
This was the remark I heard from a friend last Sunday. We attend the same church, and as we were leaving after the Sunday service, he asked me what I thought about a recent controversy involving a government official.
The controversy had to do with the award given by the alumni association of a renowned Catholic university. It appears the award had triggered a major howl, prompting the university to distance itself from the melee and for the award-giving body to rethink its move.
My friend said he thought I was interested in the controversy because some of our family members have ties with the educational institution involved. I told my friend that I had learned to carefully select which issues I would give part of my scant attention to.
Then, he asked:
“What do you do with people who really, really hate you and who go out of their way to show it?”
My friend’s view is that the world – particularly that part which inhabits social media – has become a universe of “active haters.”
“You see encounter them every day – using the power of words to convey their anger against people, institutions, the world – ignoring reason and sobriety and trying to contaminate everyone else with the toxins of their hatred,” my friend explained his view.
“I am sure you have experienced and felt that reality since you are a public figure,” my friend opined.
“That’s true,” I obliged.
“So, how do you handle other people’s hate, particularly when it is directed towards you?” he asked.
“You don’t,” was my reply. “You don’t ever attempt to handle other people’s hatred even when it is directed towards you,” I said again, trying to underscore the importance of my insight on the issue.
“What do you mean?” my friend asked, seriously wanting to understand my viewpoint.
“Well, it is already hard for us to manage our own emotions. Why should we even try to manage the emotions of others,” I began.
“You see, there is a difference between ‘being angry’ and ‘hating’,” I continued.
“Explain,” my friend begged, the topic all of a sudden assuming much importance for him.
“Anger is a temporary reaction; hating a more extended emotional state,” I explained further.
“There are times when people are ‘rightly’ angry with us – like when we fail and disappoint them,” I pointed out. On those occasions, setting things right and apologizing should work, I expounded.
“That should address the ‘righteous anger’,” I said.
“But hatred towards us is another matter,” I underlined the difference. “Hatred cannot be addressed my specific solutions on the part of the person who is the object of hate,” I continued.
“This is because there are times when the real issue is not in the object of hatred, but in the hater himself,” I added.
I once read somewhere that “we are never really angry with another person.” We are angry with aspects of ourselves which we don’t like and which we see in another person.
This means that “being filled with hatred” is an emotional state that can be resolved by the hater alone. It is an “impossible issue” as far as the person who is the object of hate is concerned. This is because no matter what the latter does, he is in no position nor does he have the power to take the hatred away from the heart of the hater.
We can’t handle the hate in another person’s heart. However, my view is that we can handle our response to it.
One, we must keep our self-esteem intact. We cannot rely solely on the affirmation of others, most especially on the affirmation that we might subconsciously be asking from those who withhold them from us.
Second, as long as no physical harm is inflicted by them on us, it is best to leave “haters” alone. To debate and argue with them publicly and – worse – online, is a waste of time and energy.
Third, it is good to understand the meaning of “unilateral forgiveness.” It simply means “not entertaining the thought of getting back” at one’s hater. Not thinking of getting even.
This, of course, is easier said than done.
I am very much aware that my human nature says “you can’t let them do that to you and get away with it.”
Forgiving needs a special strength. Others call that special strength “Grace.”
In my prayers today are our readers who may be experiencing being the object of intense hate.
I am sure God understands concerns like this.
After all, His own Son was once the object of hate, too. That was the hate that brought Him to the cross.
No doubt, even while He hang on the cross, He forgave those who nailed Him there.
Didn’t He say, “Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they do”?
Truly, hatred blinds and a hateful person may not know what he does.
May we all learn forgiveness as taught by the One who forgave from the Cross.
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