As a regular reader of this site I have all too often fallen prey to hating the other side:
I have wished them ill.
I have fantasized about them getting their comeuppance.
I have told myself I should be better than that.
This has worked as well for me as trying to use willpower to diet. Is there a better way? Yes.
To get there we need to consider why do we do the things we do. At any given moment we do what we think is “best”. This arises from the sum total of who we are – our values, memories, habits, needs and inspirations, and so forth. Are we not free to choose whatever we like? Sure, but we are not about to choose what we do not like. For example, I am free to choose to be a Republican, but I am not about to do so. Sometimes we face more difficult questions, and have to think about it to decide. Be that as it may, our behavior arises out of our personal causes and conditions. Same goes for everyone else.
I think it is safe to say we have all done things in our lives we are not proud of, and would do differently now, had we the chance. Yet looking back upon such incidents we can see how our attitudes and beliefs at the time led to that behavior. So the negative judgments we might be inclined to pass upon ourselves are tempered by the understanding of our mind-set. Should we not take the same attitude towards others?
So there is no point in hating the liars, the corrrupt, the hate mongers, the Republicans. They are each subject to their own personal causes and conditions. They see things the way they see them because that is who they are. Of course we should oppose them, but the hatred only harms ourselves.
I find it interesting that something like this is the very first spiritual teaching in the Bible, from Genesis 2-3, KJV, Bible Gateway:
“And out of the ground made .. God to grow every tree [including] the tree of knowledge of good and evil”
The Lord instructed “ of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat”
Adam & Eve then they fell prey to temptation and ate: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked … and Adam and his wife hid themselves ....
And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
And He said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?”
Busted! The “fruit” was no apple (“apple” is never mentioned), it was the temptation to pass judgment. They partake of this fruit and promptly judge their nakedness as shameful. This gives them away, and they get thrown out of the garden with all the ensuing tribulations.
The point is it is a mistake to be passing judgment.
Surely we must oppose wrongdoing. How are we to do that if we avoid passing judgment? Judgment here refers to moral condemnation of something or someone as evil. If there is bad behavior going on we simply say it’s bad behavior with the understanding that they don’t know any better. Understanding the human condition gets us beyond judging others as evil by nature.
The Tibetan Buddhists liken hatred to “taking poison and hoping your enemy dies”. Hatred does nothing to slow down our adversaries. It only mires us in negative emotion and sucks our own energy.
Am I suggesting we abandon our activism in any way? Not at all. What I am saying is if we can do it without falling prey to hatred, we will be happier, healthier, and more effective.