Over at Danielle Bean's, there's been a discussion about the word "hate" and whether or not that word has any place in a Catholic/Christian home.
I've posted a couple of comments, which I'll briefly summarize here: essentially, there's nothing wrong with the word "hate" in itself; we should, and do, hate evil; I'm not a big fan of the idea of banning ordinary English words from the vocabulary of our homes in an attempt to regulate our children's emotions or behavior.
I don't mind that we, as Catholic parents, want our children to practice temperance of speech. I don't think letting our children swear, or use blatant vulgarities, or cultivate slang is particularly good for them spiritually, emotionally, or linguistically. I applaud parents who try to root out negative attitudes and contempt, and replace these with a "can-do" spirit and an appreciation of others which shows that we see them as reflections of God and brothers in Christ.
But I don't think that creating a sense in their hearts that the word "hate" is evil and forbidden is a good thing. I don't think that having them flinch anytime they hear someone else use this word is a healthy thing. I don't think having them judge the playmate who says, "Gosh, I hate it when I scrape my knee like that," is a spiritually positive thing. I don't think allowing themselves to become prideful of the fact that they know better is a wise thing.
Certainly, we don't want our children to hate others; but the kind of hate that is sinful and dangerous isn't a mere emotion, or the mild form of dislike expressed by one common definition of the word. The kind of hate that destroys is, like love, an act of the will. And we won't change our children's wills by changing their vocabulary. All we will do is make them hide such decisions from us, or become childish experts in the art of rationalization.
If we want them not to hate, we have to model love, tolerance, peace, patience, forgiveness, long-suffering, and true charity. It does them no good for us to wag an admonishing finger every time we hear the H-word, but then spend hours tearing down others in their hearing, detailing the faults of family and friends in a faux-Christian way: "She'd be so much healthier if she'd just lose some of that weight...he'd be much easier to get along with if he didn't spend all his time talking about sports...she's a nice enough person, but her children are so badly behaved...he might be very friendly, but I certainly don't approve of those television shows he talks about..."
We can't tell them not to say "hate," and then cut people out of our lives for failing to conform to our every standard, look down on those who don't do everything that we do, judge our brothers and sisters for being less Catholic than we are, insist on the non-essentials and grow angry when our preferences don't prevail, and bludgeon our neighbor with the beam in our eye as we painstakingly point out the speck of dust in their inoffensive irises.
Hate is so much more than a mere feeling of dislike or momentary annoyance. The word is remarkably powerless, in the absence of the actions.