Saturday 21 May 2022 5th week of Eastertide
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If the world hates you, remember that it hated me before you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you do not belong to the world, because my choice withdrew you from the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the words I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too; if they kept my word, they will keep yours as well. But it will be on my account that they will do all this, because they do not know the one who sent me.’
Hatred is a complex emotion, made up of many other emotions and states of being, anger, resentment, jealousy, envy, intense dislike, fear, repulsion, bad memories, etc. The viciousness that haters may display comes from their ability to morally disengage from their actions and create rationalisations for the hatred they feel or the suffering that they consciously cause. A study of the psychological aspects of hatred does not disregard the role of various socio-political, economic, or historical factors responsible for this complex emotion. However, all of them are eventually processed in the mind of the hater.
When you don’t belong, when your life is at odds with that of others, or your way of life challenges or contradicts the values others hold, others may hold you in judgement and from the perspective of the hater, something must be done to reduce the ‘threat’ posed to them by alternative ways of being. Hatred is based not just on a negative perception of others, but also depends on one’s personal history; its effects on one’s personality; one’s feelings, ideas or ideologies, beliefs, and their identity. Hatred, like love, has its origins in personal stories that characterise one’s emotions.
Studies* show that those who act from hatred are often underachievers in life. This leads to a deep-rooted inferiority complex and frustration. They must blame something for it, which also becomes an object of resentment and later, hatred. However, to salvage some of their low self-esteem, they try to compensate for it by latching on to something that makes them feel good, such as a perception of a ‘normal’, an ideology, or a group affiliation. Those who “do not belong” are not ‘normal’, or do not fit the ideology or affiliation, so they become aberrations that need to be diminished.
Christians are called to live a prophetic life, not to an ideological life. The prophecy we live is to give witness to the power of an all-pervasive, indestructible love. Doing so makes our lives counter cultural. The Gospel of Jesus is counter-cultural to hatred and prejudice. In this way we do not belong to the world, for our lives are not shaped by anger, resentment, jealousy, envy, intense dislike, fear, repulsion, bad memories, but on love of God and love of neighbour.