Love or Hate: We Choose One or the Other with Every Action

As I watch the hatred spewing around me these days, I find myself struggling to love those who are being so hateful. Many would say I shouldn't bother. Doesn't hate deserve hate? Perhaps, but, seriously, what good does that accomplish?

Here's the thing. If I hate the haters, don't I become as bad as them? If I can find a way to love those who deserve my hatred, perhaps I can be one small disruption in the machine of hatred. If I can cause even one person to question the hate he or she is directing into the world, then not letting myself fall into the habit of hating is worth it.

Let's be clear about this. Nothing good ever comes from hate. It can't. Hatred is too negative to result in anything good. It isn't until we act from a place of love that we can begin to heal hurt, betrayal, or hate itself.

This bring to mind Blue October's song "Hate Me" in which the band sings "Hate me so you can finally see what's good for you." And in theory that sounds like a positive outcome from hate, but I believe  a better way to think of it is "Love yourself enough to let me go, so you can do what's right for you." Sorry, Blue October, I love your song, but I have to be honest.

When we spread hate, we close communication. When we focus too hard on what doesn't work, we run the risk of blinding ourselves to what does. I'm not saying we shouldn't fix what's broken because we should. However, if we never see the good, we'll lose sight of why fixing things even matters.

If we begin to approach the world around us with love, we soon discover that even that which doesn't work is easier to release than hate would have us believe. When hate rules our hearts and minds, we become mired in things that really aren't relevant. We can't see what has changed. We can't allow growth within ourselves or others. Hate holds us in the moment when things went wrong, and we become so surrounded with negativity we begin to drown in it.

Several years ago, I reached a point where I realized I needed to let go of the hate that lived in my heart. It was hate I felt entitled to feel, so I clung to it. I thought it somehow protected me from becoming too vulnerable. That hatred had created a fear of intimacy that allowed me to keep myself isolated from people and situations that might hurt me. Over time, I thought the hate didn't matter because I didn't actively express it. But the fact that I allowed it to take up valuable space in my heart kept me from loving fully and openly. Letting go of that hate scared me. I feared if I let it go, I'd forget the lessons from the situation that had created the hate.

So I had to let it go a little a time. I experimented with just focusing my thoughts and emotions on love and not actually tackling the hate. When the hate surfaced, I resisted it at first. The more I focused on love, the more I was able to accept that I felt the hate and to surround it with love. Eventually, it grew smaller and smaller. And, what I realized was that over time the hate I had for a situation had grown to be a hatred of self because of self-blame, self-doubt, and self-recrimination. As I loved myself and embraced my own goodness, I discovered the hate had less and less impact on me. Life grew better. Life grew happier. Life grew more productive. Life grew more satisfying.

My problems weren't all solved by living from a place of love, but they became more manageable. I learned to accept them and see solutions I wouldn't have considered before. I even learned to let go with love, something I'd never even considered before in my life. Well, that's not entirely true. I had let go with love before though I hadn't recognized that until much, much later because my self-hatred had also played a part in that letting go.

Living from a place of love doesn't mean never changing. In fact, it makes change easier. When we love enough to want to give the world our best selves, we change to become the people we want to be. We can love ourselves as we are and still become better. This lesson took me a long time to learn. I thought I had to identify what I hated about myself to change it. Instead focusing on what I hated about myself only brought more negativity into my life and kept me mired in my issues. When I focused on what I loved about myself, I grew in ways that allowed what I hated about myself to become less prominent. Suddenly, I nurtured the good in me, and that's what grew. Love became a fertilizer in my life reaping positive change when I stopped allowing hate to feed my insecurities and doubts.

These days we are so surrounded by hate, it feels almost palpable. That frightens me. Hate leads to nothing good. Hate leads to lies. Hate leads to violence. Hate leads to demonization of others. Hate leads to dogmatic thinking that excludes others from their rights. Hate leads to fear. Hate leads absolutely nowhere worth being.

Love and hate really can't reside in the same heart. If you love, then you love. If you hate, then you hate. People say you can "love the person, but hate the action." I no longer believe that. You can disagree with an action. You can even condemn an action. The moment you begin to hate an action, you are acting from a place of hate. And, that mere action of coming from hate spreads hate and closes off any possibility for understanding, change, and reconciliation.

Every morning I wake up and I choose love. I choose to love even when it hurts. I choose to love even those who don't and never will love me. I choose to love even those with whom I'll never agree. I choose to love my life with all its ups and downs. I choose to love myself. I choose to be someone who puts love into the world. I choose to not allow other people's hatred to affect the love I let guide my life even though that is often very difficult.

The simple act of choosing love over hate has enhanced my life enormously. Perhaps, you might find it in your heart to release any hate that lives there and allow love room to grow...


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