Must we hate?
If it’s our obligation to fight for what we believe in–to fight for what is right–how are we supposed to drum up the passion? Isn’t hate the best way to do this?
Fighting is by definition nasty. But there comes a point in everyone’s life where they have to do it. So you’d better fight to win.
What does this matter? You’re never going to change most people’s minds, right?
True. But consider:
- You might be able to change some people’s minds; and
- You still have to live with people whom you disagree with, and real-estate is limited.
Familiarity and proximity breed contempt, and fighting is inevitable. Fighting, by definition, is nasty, but if you’re going to do it, you’d better fight to win.
Fighting is a necessary evil, and when engaging in a necessary evil, it needs to be mitigated to the greatest extent possible.
But there is danger in assuming malice and evil on the part of your opponents. If you view opponents as subhuman, you’ll do anything to them. Anything.
Hanlon’s razor is the name of this philosophical tenet: You shouldn’t assume malice when carelessness or stupidity will suffice as explanations.
I take that a little further. Most people believe that they are doing good when they fight for something or hold a particular position. Doing good is a much more sustainable motivation for most people than hatred and anger.
The trick comes, however, when the results of one’s positions are verifiably proven to be harmful. At that point, continuing to push for them may very well be the result of malice.
The trick has to be to fight for and against ideologies, not people.
On Fighting In General
For Christians like me, this might be a conundrum. The natural impulse–the natural necessity–to fight, to stick up for ourselves, is in direct conflict with the teachings of Christ.
Or is it?
As Jason Berggren puts it using the story of the adultress as an example, Jesus was the most judgmental person ever:
[T]he religious people in a specific town tried to entrap Jesus so they could find a reason to kill him. What they did was trick a woman into commit adultery, caught her in the act, and brought her to the town square to stone her (of course, the first question is, where was the guy?). In his brilliance, Jesus answers the religious people with, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” With that, they all dropped their rocks and split.
But did you know Jesus judged the woman after all that? That’s right. The last words Jesus said to her was, “Go and sin no more.”
This shows that He did stand up and fight back, or be willing to fight back, too. And turning the other cheek was a prohibition against personal revenge, not a call for meek submission in the face of all aggression.
Love the sinner, hate the sin, right?
There’s also that little bit about vengeance being God’s domain and no one else’s.
So the problem isn’t fighting per se–just war theory, after all, was taught by St. Thomas Aquinas.
The issue is with hate. Whether it’s war or politics, I argue that hatred, though a natural human inclination, is counterproductive.
In art, it’s a different story. Sometimes hatred can produce fantastic art (Pink Floyd’s late-1970s catalog is proof of this, as is most of Nine Inch Nails’ recorded output). But life is different.
I think most problems occur when we have malice in our heart. Continue reading “Hatred and Revenge”