How Can We Turn Hate to Love?
Every human being wants happiness. People who hurt you are not evil. They are merely unskilled at being happy.
You may be nodding your head in agreement — those are easy sentiments to understand in the abstract. Yet putting them into practice in real life can be a struggle.
It’s important to remember that there’s good in everyone, even if they have been affected by events that caused them to approach the world and its people in destructive ways. Down deep, they are like you. They are looking for love. Assume the best, and you may find it. If you receive hatefulness or aggression, give love in return. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
So how do we practice this belief in our lives? Start by listening to other people. Be kind and patient with them.
Here’s a thought experiment: How easy is it for you to be happy in a room full of happy people, compared with trying to be happy while surrounded by unhappy people? Now, look at it from the other direction: How hard would it be to stay unhappy in a room full of happy people? We are truly connected to others whether we like it or not. You have the power to make a difference in other people’s lives by simply choosing to make a positive impact.
Seeing The Essential Goodness Within All People
None of us are perfect. Emotions like anger, jealousy, and fear can be so strong that they overpower our true humanity and the genuine love we have for ourselves and other people. The deadlines and stresses of everyday life usually prevent us from slowing down and listening to our better selves, and contemplating our spiritual nature.
Your defenses have been built up over the years as a result of wrongs done to you. Those defenses are so ingrained within you that you do not see them — you do not even realize they exist. They can cause you to react spontaneously and emotionally to people and events. They are primeval survival mechanisms, like fight or flight, which may have been worthwhile in some distant past, but now they usually get in the way. They can be so strong that they overwhelm your true spirit.
Love Is The Way
Don’t let the past harmful acts of others make you feel inadequate, insecure, or angry. It helps to recognize that people’s hurtful actions against you so long ago were often beyond the control of those who did them. They were only acting from their own emotional knee-jerk emotions. They were victims of them just as you were — you are both in the same boat!
It helps to start by looking in the mirror: Once you can look objectively at your own irrational negative emotions, it’s easier to understand them in others and forgive them. You will forgive them because you have seen the futility and self-destructiveness of feeling hatred. You will know that forgiveness is not just what you give to others; it is a gift you give yourself. It is your liberation and redemption.
Even bad acts are not evil. Perhaps they are subconsciously done out of perceived fear, jealousy, lust, or anger. They may be done by an otherwise good person. Put yourself in their place. You have been there. How would you want someone to think about you?
Love helps to cut through those preconceptions. Through love, you can see the essential goodness within a person who has committed a destructive act. Through love, you see beyond good and bad to the true spirit within. You see through the veils created by your ego and those of others.
This does not mean that you will overlook their transgressions. To love all beings isn’t an excuse to let them hurt themselves or others. It is said that the child most challenging to love needs it the most. Your love for your children compels you sometimes to punish them or separate them from others for their own good.
As a parent supervising the play of young children, you do not become emotionally involved when one child hits another child or grabs a toy from a friend. You are at a level of understanding above theirs. You handle the situation empathetically, objectively, and calmly, perhaps separating them or sending a child to his or her room.
In that same way, universal, unconditional love does not prevent you from punishing people for bad acts or from separating them from society (in extreme cases). Defaulting to love is not a method to avoid all conflict.
Nothing is perfect in this physical world. It is for us to see the perfection within the imperfection. Love is the way.