Love Cannot Replace Hate…Only Self-Respect Can

Dr Philip Dembo Hate Love Self Respect

The year…1996.

The scene looked something like this…

My daughter Liz was hysterically crying because she was just informed by me that she wasn’t given permission to attend a party that night. As with most 12 year old girls, making sure you were with your friends was way more important than any one “life lesson” your parents were trying to teach you.

[10 Teens Share 10 Tips for Ending Hatred (Especially Self-Hate)]

As she sat in her room on the second floor of the house, I could hear the sounds of deep angst and despair…all the way from the downstairs kitchen table where I had been sitting.

“Dad!” “Dad!” “Dad!”

“Liz, stop yelling!” I (of course) yelled from the bottom of the stairs. “If you want to discuss this, come downstairs and lets have a reasonable conversation.”

“I hate you! You have ruined my life!”

“I hate you”????

Really? Hate? Wow…those are harsh words. I knew Liz didn’t mean it. I knew she loved me as I loved her. But that word…”HATE”! Now that’s a scary word. It’s a word that has always confused me. I understood the intense disappointment and lack of maturity in a smart, beautiful 12 year old girl using that word to bite back because she felt bitten.

[Let’s Stop Using Violent Words to Celebrate Accomplishment]

I just don’t buy the theory that any “word” justifies the intention to harm another as a way to represent one’s own feelings. Explaining the sentiment of a teenager who isn’t getting her way is one thing. Justifying violence toward innocent people is another.

Today, it’s 2016 and somehow there are people out there willing to “bite back”, even though they haven’t been bitten at all… and justify it with a word, a phrase. (At least it’s hard for me to see their apparent bite marks.) In the last week, the news is overtaken with stories of mass murder in Orlando, where the world is attempting to determine whether this was an act of “terror” or if this was some crime of “hate.”

[After Orlando, It’s Not Enough to Be Shocked and Saddened… We Must BE the Love and Prayers]

First of all, I am not sure it matters whether there is a difference between terrorism and a hate crime to the victims or their loved ones…or any of us for that matter.

“Hate crimes.” “Hate”???? Really?… Any one group of people have “bitten” you so badly that the solution is to bite back? Negative feelings running so deeply that the tolerance for another, which must lie beneath the surface of our standards, can never emerge from the fury? I cannot fathom feeling so intensely against someone else that my identity, my energy, and my purpose is to “bite” them so tragically that I draw their blood or end their life.

My father was a Holocaust survivor, so I understand hate crimes from both sides all too well. Hatred for the Nazis was a common sentiment in my parents home. Yes…the negative feelings were and are strong.  And yes… There was a struggle to understand their existence! But never… not once had I felt “hate” so strongly that I could plot the death or destruction of another human being. No… not even a Nazi.

[The Power to Transform Feelings of ‘Hate’ Into ‘Love’ Is Yours]

 

Hatred of another has always been replaced with the respect of oneself. Thats right…the more I focused on who I was, the less I needed to assign my energy to who someone else might be… Even people I have intense feelings about. “Hate” as a feeling makes sense to me. Sometimes things just feel intense.

But “hate” as an intention is a cowardly justification for the weakness of “self”. Love doesn’t replace hate, no matter how many songs we create. “Respect of self” does.

[Read Maria Shriver’s latest ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essay]

I don’t have to love a Nazi to not want to hurt him. I have to respect myself and live by a standard of who I am and what I stand for. Not what anyone else does! Proving my worth at someone else’s expense is not “worth” at all. If we only put the same amount of resolve into our own standard of self, as we use to judge someone else, life would be a whole lot more peaceful. We, as individuals, would feel more at peace.

There is no room in our world for “hate” as an intention. And love is a beautiful thing if you can find it or feel it. But…”Self Respect”… the standard within us to hold ourselves accountable while letting the rest of the world be?

…Without it, we will continue to justify anything.


{Image credit: Anna Demianenko, Unsplash}

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