Sunday, February 7, 2016


Darkness Week continues here on the Slog. Yesterday, we tackled Evil. Today: Hatred.

You most likely don't hate the people you say you do. It's just a matter of superlative inflation. Here's a test: if a hated person were to move to some distant island, and never be heard from again (i.e. completely and permanently disappeared from your life) would you wish that person complete unhappiness?

I really doubt it.

I've experienced true hatred only a couple of times - only on the receiving end, and only from total strangers. To be sure, there are people with a low opinion of me (I'm not referring to "haters", who are the staunchest of fans, though sadly unable to express their love healthily). But low opinions have nothing to do with real hatred.

I'm not sure you can be truly hated for who you actually are. It's normally more a matter of what you are. Twice now, in Palestinian restaurants, I've inadvertently locked eyes with someone who, I understood instantly, was not looking back at a human being. Someone who would never pay an iota of attention to my good wishes, my non-Zionism, my love for Palestinian cuisine, music, and literature. Who'd wish me unceasing unhappiness on that island, and who, if we were the last two people on Earth, would still see me as nothing but blight to the day he died, utterly irrespective of anything I might say or do.*

That's hatred (if it seems unlikely that all that could be conveyed in a glance, congratulations; you've never been subjected to it). Hatred is a potent toxin - as gut-punchingly demoralizing as a first kiss is elevating - and I pity those who have it in their lives, whether incoming or outgoing.

Evil, once again, stems from the combination of desensitization and raised stakes. It is inevitable, because both factors seem biologically baked in. But hatred - the product of desensitization and rigidity - is optional. We've often chosen to make a virtue of rigidity, celebrating our staunch partisans, unyielding heroes, and any unquenchable drive to right "wrongs". We may want to reconsider that.

* - I hasten to note that I've gotten along great with literally every other Palestinian I've met. I even dated one once. And I've certainly met Jews who display corresponding hatred (who, for example, still joyfully celebrate the assassination of an Israeli leader who tried to make peace).

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