“I know you hate football, but…” was the opening sentence a friend used before proceeding to tell me a story about football.
“I don’t hate football! Where did you get that idea?” I would answer, before continuing on with the conversation.
We are very polarized in our society. We have somehow labeled our attitudes about controversial topics so that we either love something, or we hate it. We are very black and white.
The fact is, I don’t hate football. I just don’t care to watch it, or any other sport for that matter. The way I see it, I’d rather do something I enjoy doing myself, rather than watching a bunch on millionaires on TV having fun doing what they enjoy, and getting paid handsomely for it. Yes, maybe I don’t love football. If there were no football, it would not make any difference in my life. But I don’t hate it. I don’t even really know it. I don’t have anything against people enjoying it. Hating it has never crossed my mind. Yet, that’s the popular assumption someone might have about me.
Recently I did a series of expose blogs about killer whales in captivity, one of which is at this link. Somebody might conclude from that that I “hate” SeaWorld. Not really. I haven’t been to SeaWorld in at least 15 years. I don’t really remember much about it. I don’t think the way it handles cetaceans in captivity is sustainable, and I think the company will need to make changes to comply with popular sentiment. And it will if it wants to survive. No hate here.
It gets more tricky, more emotional and more polarized in the political world. Reading the comments of liberals or conservatives in response to articles leaning one way or the other can be a frightening experience. People throw expletives at each other on Facebook arguing political causes, as if everyone had to be one color or the other. I tend to have a liberal bent to my attitudes and reactions, I tend to vote for liberal candidates, but I am and have always been an independent. If I had to choose a party today, I’d probably be Republican and my fellow Republicans would be horrified about my voting record.
Ted Nugent recently was on the national stage trumpeting that liberals hated freedom. What a crazy notion. Just because a person believes that society would be better off with less guns circulating does definitely not mean that that person hates freedom. Where did the perverse connection between guns and freedom arise? When it’s just a rock musician calling political opponents freedom haters it’s one thing. When a soldier comes back from many years in Iraq, broken and destroyed, when that soldier then campaigns against the war he has seen first-hand, and when that soldier is called a freedom hater, it is a heinous insult.
Our reaction to the abortion controversy is even worse. We call the sides Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, and both are euphemisms. I can see both sides. Yet, the Pro-Life advocates have no problem calling the others “baby killers.” That is a brutal accusation and a cruel insult. Just because a person respects the right of a woman to choose what happens inside her own body does not mean that person is a baby killer. That person may never consider an abortion for herself, may have lived her whole life without ever having an abortion or even considering one. But she can still believe in a woman’s right to make her own choices, without government intervention or societal labels, especially such that are created by religion. She doesn’t hate life and she is not a killer.
Then there is the most ludicrous of all: Atheists hate God. An atheist thinks God is an imaginary being, like the Tooth Fairy or Superman. It makes no sense for an atheist to hate God. Why would he bother.
Hate may be the dictionary definition of the opposite of love, but just because someone does not love something, that does not mean they hate it. There is a joke about men only experiencing two emotions: pain and orgasm. Well, it’s not quite that simple. We men experience at least one other one between: hunger.
So there you have it!