Thursday, May 13, 2010

Owning The "H" Word

The "H" word. We all know it. We have all felt it. Sometimes we use it to describe traffic jams, the stuff we find on our sandwiches, the work we do, or getting up on a Monday morning. We use it so easily, but sometimes things happen to us that we can't control - things that are done to us by other people who for that moment, had control over our lives and made us feel powerless, insignificant and small. And then it is that we turn the injury done to us by others into hatred directed back at them - and make it all worse.

We own the "H" word, and we eagerly claim it with both hands - not realizing that it is not us who wields it, but it which wields us.

Hate is bad for everybody.

It's bad for the people who harm us, at least in terms of karma, but it's also bad for the victim - because it festers inside us. Hate is acid in the blood that eats us hollow from the inside and destroys us - and does the work of our enemies for them.

We have all been hurt by others in some way - betrayed or injured - some worse than others. Some people have suffered a grievous loss, had their dignity taken away, or had their humanity stripped away from them. Some people have been raped or suffered other traumatic injuries which haunt them for years afterwards. Some people have scars that will never go away.

This inner turmoil, anger, hurt and sorrow ferments over time and sometimes becomes a blinding, all-consuming hate that can fuel our existence like the furious heart of a blazing sun.

And yet, it is all up to us. Through all our pain, our sorrow - and our hatred, we still have control. We still have the free will, the freedom of choice to hate or not to hate, or - either way - to act on it. Control is still ours in choosing for ourselves how to act on our feelings.

Yes, hate is natural, it is powerful - and it may lead you to destroy your enemies utterly, if that is what you wish to achieve - but it will also destroy you in the process. Hating people is counter-productive - it is all-consuming (that means YOU as well) - it means that instead of using your resources to move on and heal, you are consumed with thinking about that person who hurt you, day after day, night after sleepless night. Your dreams become nightmares, populated with your enemies and scripted to please them.

Instead of getting over the people who did you wrong, you will be focusing increasingly on them, the more ineffective you realize your hatred of them becomes. At least, in terms of they way you want it to go. Instead of the earth opening to swallow them up or mountains falling on them, they will be carrying on as usual, oblivious to the hell and torture you put yourself through on their account - and the one that is worse off for it will not be them - but you.

I'm not saying you need to forgive, or to forget - but if you do, you can move on and stop hating and stop allowing them to destroy you. What I am saying is that no matter how you look at it, hating somebody doesn't make sense. If you feel you need satisfaction, to get even or to seek justice, then by all means do so as quickly as possible - but do it without hating them. Hate is effort, and people who hurt you shouldn't deserve that kind of effort.

Now we move to another word, the "F" word. No, not that one, the other one - forgiveness. People seem to think that forgiving your enemies means you are weak, but it doesn't - it means you are stronger than them, because despite their efforts, they haven't been able to destroy you. It takes strength and maturity to forgive.

People seem to think that forgiveness is for the benefit of the perpetrator, but it isn't - it's for the victim.

If you forgive, you don't have to forget - but to forget, you have to forgive. And forgiving doesn't have to mean letting them hurt you again.

So forgive. Move on. Heal.

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