Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Think I Know Enough of Hate

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.


AnnonyMouse said...

That is not one word that is banned from our home or vocabulary.

I hate it when when they try to "take me for a ride" at the auto shop and then cancel my warranty. That is an injustice and I hate it.

I hate it when I am referred to as the "liturgical cop" because I love our liturgy so much to say something about an error or mistake.

I hate it when friends leave the Church for something "better" or "righter".

I hate that it took 40 years for justice to be served for the black murders in our state. the end of the day...if I can't say a prayer for these people...then there is something wrong with me and I am lacking in charity and that is one thing that I hope to teach our children.

Emily said...

Well said again, Redcardigan. I followed this thread over at Danielle Bean's site from the first post (I was totally confused by it ... I have never even heard of banning words like "hate" or "love.") I very much liked what you had to say in your comments on the matter. Thanks for elaborating. I couldn't more whole-heartedly agree.

diana said...

Can you come and speak to our Homeschool group?
Seriously. You have something IMPORTANT TO SAY.
The behavior I have seen from the holiness clique is enough to turn me off from religion! And when the holiness clique sets the standard, all must follow!

Okay, with the hate word....some personalities are dramatic and must express themselves using dramatic vocabulary...for instance I *loathe* arguing and bickering, *despise* certain abuses of the mass like annonymouse, *resent* this or that, but it's just me expressing strongly my preference. My four year old, picking up on this, has said in the company of homeschoolers, that he hates it when another kid ruins his block tower, or takes his special toy. I get looks. So sorry.
You have said it all. Again. God bless you. You have taken loads off my shoulders. I am so glad I found your blog! So many people toe party lines found in homeschool and religious groups so it's nice to hear a saintly Catholic express these views!
Write a book, please! The Best Of Red Cardigan!

Red Cardigan said...

Diana, thank you!

I think I live a bit too far away from you to speak to your group, but I appreciate the sentiment. :)

The thing is, I fervently believe that any time we start thinking that we ourselves, or our way of doing things, is holier or better than someone else's we're in grave spiritual danger, because such thoughts never occur to the truly holy, and are always a temptation to pride, the devil's favorite sin.

There's a vast difference between sharing what we might do in our own homes that seems to help our spiritual journey, and strongly intimating that anyone who doesn't do *exactly* as we do is probably doomed. The one is motivated by love, and the other by vanity.