2017-02-03

Hate is a Policy, not a Feeling


We tend to think of things like hate and love as feelings: They happen when we "feel" them, or experience them inside ourselves, even if unexpressed in outward action. But it seems to me that they rather are motivations that lead to concrete actions. Hate is not so much judged by a Likert Scale of 0 (no feeling of hate) to 5 (strong feeling of hate). Hate is judged by the outward actions and attitudes it manifests in social interactions. 


If someone intentionally pursues actions which hinder or stop someone's access to resources and opportunities they need to live, then they hate them in a practical sense. If someone intentionally supports policies that bring harm or destruction on others who have done nothing to deserve it, then that person effectively hates the other group. If we raise the gun to shoot an innocent person, we hate that person, regardless of the intensity of our feelings for them. If we passively and knowingly allow an innocent person to be murdered or maimed, then we hate them, even if we feel apathetic or even sentimental toward them.

Conversely, Love is primarily an activity, long before it is a feeling. If we help someone get access to the "daily bread" they need to survive and thrive, we love them, regardless if we have nice feelings for them. If we stand up for someone to resist their oppression or destruction, then we love them, even if we feel like we despise them.

Feelings often correspond with actions, but not always, and not reliably. And feelings tend to be the "caboose" towed by the "engine" of action: Hence the phrase "fake it till you make it". If you act in love toward others long enough, you will find yourself feeling loving toward them. If you act in hate toward others long enough, you will eventually feel hate toward them, even if you have been taught from the cradle to "love your neighbor as yourself".

So, it seems to me that both love and hate are better seen as policies: A policy sets an agenda and motive for action, and leads to concrete action for the health or the harm of others.

So, do you love your neighbor? Or do you hate your neighbor? The best indicator is not to check inwardly to see how you feel about them, but to check outwardly and see what activities you engage in, and what public policies you support. Because it is your habits which betray your heart.

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This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.