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My thoughts on hate are briefer and more concise than those on love, and so I will lay them out and leave them to rest before moving on to the superior phenomenon of love. When considering ‘hate’ used in language, it appears to be some ‘thing’ that we direct towards specific individuals, structures, ideologies, or other phenomena external to ourselves. For example, we might say “I hate people who ___,” or “I hate it when ___ happens.”

It is as if hate is an invisible projectile we aim at objects that do not align with our beliefs of how things ought to be. I believe the directive nature of hatred is what makes hatred both counterintuitive and ironic. This is because no matter what or who you hate – what or who you are aiming at – the target your hatred will hit is inevitably yourself.

Hating is uncomfortable, painful, and energy-intensive – not for the hated, but for the person who hates. On top of this, you’ll never hate someone into being nicer to you, hate an ideology out of existence, or hate oppression into liberation. As such, hatred is a self-inflicted wound that does nothing but waste your time and energy that could be better invested into something more worthwhile – which, in my opinion, would be almost anything else.

Love, on the other hand, is a beautifully complex and powerful form of connection between conscious beings. Whenever I think of love as a concept, my automatic tendency seems to be to immediately refer to four models of love proposed by the ancient Greeks:  Storge – empathic affection; Philia – the emotional maxim of friendship; Eros – romantic love; and Agape – unconditional love. It seems to me that agapic love on its own or combined with any one or number of the others would be beautiful in any situation.

Agapic love is an abstract form of connection between the lover and the beloved. It involves an unconditional form of appreciation and interest possessed by the lover for the beloved simply for who the beloved is, rather than for what the beloved may be capable of, or how they may benefit or entertain the lover. Someone who loves in this way selflessly desires only for the wellbeing of their beloved and expects nothing in return. To them, their love for their beloved is an end in itself.

When I observe a love like this, I feel warm, I feel grateful, I feel … whatever the exact antonym of schadenfreude is. It always lifts my spirit to see others genuinely caring about each other.

To hold love like this for someone else feels like an internal process diametrically opposed to the one outlined earlier of the maintenance of hate. Where hatred of others is a self-inflicted poison, the loving of others is an endogenous serum of emotional wellness.

To receive love like this feels less clear to me. At one point in my life, I felt that it was scary to be loved, especially in cases wherein the origin of the lover’s love was unclear to me; when I did not understand why they loved me; if it was, in fact, love, and, if it was, whether I genuinely deserved their love for the reasons they loved me.

I now believe love does not require a rational explanation to earn its validity, and it is naïve to proclaim that love must make sense to be valuable. Fully understanding a phenomenon diminishes its power over us, and the fact that love is so unrestricted and un-measurable is, in itself, what makes it so valuable.

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