An Instant (well, kind of) Antidote to Hating Anyone
There’s a lot of hate out there today. I don’t need to tell you where. You see it and you sense it.
We’re all vulnerable to feeling hatred, by the way—or something bordering on it. Almost anyone can be wronged profoundly enough to feel it. Almost anyone can witness wrongdoing to others enough to feel it.
So here’s the antidote: Every one of the people you might hate or come close to hating has a story that would temper your ill-will. Every one of them. No exceptions. Killers, rioters, looters. Because human beings are all born with empathy. There isn’t one baby born into this universe whose DNA codes for destructiveness. There is no “bad seed.” There is no original evil left. Everyone is just recycling pain.
I don’t know Derek Chauvin’s life story, but I promise you this: No man suffocates another man and watches him die if he has not been spiritually suffocated and metaphorically murdered himself, through events over which he had little control, probably early in life. If we knew that story I can guarantee it would curl the hair at the back of your neck. And rather than feeling hatred, I would venture you would feel sadness—at the thought of how vulnerable we human beings are, how very beautiful, yet how exquisitely breakable.
I don’t know the life stories of those who have burned buildings or killed other men and women in the last weeks, but I can guarantee the same: There are no life stories that do not make sense—even when they make a terrible kind of sense. There’s no one worth hating because free will is vastly overstated. Lives that take turns into complete darkness are devoid of free will because psychologically healthy humans are beings of the light.
I tell you this after having interviewed dozens of killers, rapists, thieves and gang members. I am still looking for one who seemed to have an even marginally acceptable life history. Those who destroy others have been destroyed themselves. This is true even for the man who tried to kill me.
There’s a lot of hate out there, but I hope there can be none inside you. The antidote is staying clear about the fact that the world makes sense and every individual in it makes sense and every act makes sense, once we know all the facts—some of them dating back years or decades, to the childhoods of those among us who have lost their light.
Dr. Keith Ablow