Recently as we sat down to a nice family dinner, my youngest daughter looked at her plate and declared, “I hate this food!”
In looking at her meal of grilled chicken, carrots and watermelon, I asked myself and then her, “What’s up with the hate?” She had eaten each of these items before and loved them.
Unable to explain her feelings (not uncommon for a 4-year-old), we launched into a family conversation about hate. Talking about what it is, how does it make us feel, what kinds of things might we hate. Is there a better way to describe that feeling? We agreed that “I don’t like” might be a better alternative.
Eventually, the conversation moved onto simpler topics about swimming and the highlights of her day.
But the hate still bothered me. Her reaction was so quick, so visceral, so unexplainable. In a word, perhaps, so thoughtless.
When we hate, we don’t think.
She didn’t think that her mother, whom she loves, had spent time trying to make a healthy meal for her and her sisters.
She didn’t think that she had eaten this food before and liked it.
She didn’t think about how her “hate” would make anyone else feel.
That’s the problem with hate. We don’t think about it at all.
This might be understandable for a 4-year-old little girl, but not for a 40-year-old father or a 70-year-old politician.
We throw the word around so carelessly and with such venom, it snowballs. It should be no surprise that when you google “hate” the first autocompletes that come up are “I hate my life” and “I hate the world.”
If we stop to think about hate, would we actually stop the hate?
When we pause to examine our hate, we can gain perspective and regain our composure. And yes, eat our chicken, carrots and watermelon.