Does it sound vehement like “I hate when my car breaks down!” or casual like “I hate mushrooms on my pizza!” when you hear yourself saying it? Does it sound directed at something like “I hate tax time!” or someone like “I hate the neighbor who doesn’t curb their dog in my yard!” and in the end, does it really matter??
No matter what context or how you look at it the word, “hate” is contagious and it hinders our true nature to love and feel compassion like a huge concrete spiritual roadblock. When you consider the severity of violent crimes against others like Matthew Shepard and the rampant bullying in schools and playgrounds, you start to internalize the notion that there isn’t room in the world for “hate” so we need to stop saying it. Plain and simple.
When I heard Judy Shepard speak this month at the Center on Halsted about her son’s death and her life in activism afterwards it dawned on me that if things are to really change, we need to look at ourselves. Real change starts there. With us.
After the folks from the Matthew Shepard Foundation passed out purple wristbands with the call to action “Erase Hate” embossed on them, I thought to myself, I’ll wear it but I don’t really use the word “hate” at all. I wasn’t raised like that. Still, I thought it was a good reminder with the kids, their learning their friend’s bad habits from school and all so I quickly put mine on and encouraged the kids to wear theirs for at least a week as a reminder. And we did.
Little did I know how many times I’d use the word in my daily life. Although it was never casual, it didn’t matter. The word carries a negative power that seeps into one’s consciousness like darkness extinguishing the light from our hearts. I believe this.
Now when we start to say the word, we catch ourselves immediately and rephrase. Beyond using the word “dislike” as a simple replacement, we’ve pondered as a family how we can focus on and strengthen the positive instead. Why emphasize what’s wrong in the world when there’s so much good? So much beauty, grace and possibility.
Erase. Destroy. Gently let go. Whatever your style. Just remove “hate” and replace that space with compassion. Our world, and our children are better for it.