Growing up, would your Mom correct you if you ever said, “I hate Billy Dean!” (the class bully) The motherly refrain was “Don’t say that! You don’t hate anybody!”
Years later, long after Billy Dean, I hated someone. Oh, yeah, I did. I truly did.
The Guy You Love To Hate
I really hated him and if you were my friend, you would have to hate him too. Let’s face it… if you didn’t have enough sense to hate this guy then you were too dumb to be my friend. This hatred was a noble, character-building hatred because this jerk was a liar, a cheat, a megalomaniac, selfish, greedy, immoral and a deceiver. And you know what was even worse?? So many people thought he was wonderful. What is wrong with them? How could so many people be so wrong… so gullible… so blind to what a monster this guy was? Gossip about him? Oh, yeah it was sort of like prayer. Any thing bad about this idiot should be shouted from the mountain tops. Everybody should be made aware of his nefarious doings and intentions. If there is a Hell this guy will be in the hottest corner.
Several years after this man left office and another President took his place my temper began to cool down. I began to consider how “over the top” my anger and hatred had been. And after all was said and done… I was alive. And amazingly enough, the country was alive. Our nation was still in “one piece” and had not slid down the slippery slope to oblivion. And I could tolerate the new president so I was reasonably happy once again.
That Irritating Conscience
My conscience would not leave me alone. Had I not decided to follow in the footsteps of a man who said that to love God is to love your neighbor? Hey! I’m nice to people! I love my neighbor… ok, I do have some troubles with Bubba two doors down with the crazy dogs and flea-bitten wife… or is that the flea-bitten dogs &… oh, never mind. But basically, I don’t have any trouble loving my neighbors. And, obviously, these people are NOT my neighbors — the people on television, the political figures, so corrupt and hypocritical. These people are so far removed from me surely it isn’t an offense (a sin) to hate people like that. They’re like, in another dimension, for pete’s sake! Not my neighbor!! And besides, I have to stand up for what is right! And a big part of taking that stance is hating these idiots in the public arena. I have to let others know how wrong they are and how right we are. Is this not “serving God?” Is this not “taking a stand for Jesus?”
Stop looking at me that way. What?? Ok, I get it. I know what your problem is. Yeah, ok maybe hating public figures and loving God is not exactly the same thing. But showing my love for God and showing my disdain for immoral public figures… well, that’s pretty close, eh? What is wrong with you? Stop pushing me! If you won’t let me hate and gossip about dirty politicians then… well, you don’t understand… you take away part of me. That’s me. Get it? I’m the actor. The funny guy. The part-time chef, the husband, the Dogfather. The guy who gets justifiably outraged at shameless, degenerate presidents, governors, congressmen and senators! It’s just who I am!!
Well, this argument with my delusional Pollyanna conscience could go on and on. And it did. For a while. Slowly, I began to realize one of the reasons why God really gets a kick out of people who don’t hate. It’s because they are lighter, freer human beings. And He kinda likes those kinds of people. He can trust them with more and “tell” them more.
Growing Like a Cancer...
Yep, I began to see how this hatred was like a cancer to my soul. Sorta like the cancer I just had and am now recovering from. Prior to my diagnosis, I only had a couple of stark indicators that there was something wrong (I will spare you the details!) but seemingly it was nothing that I couldn’t live with. I was fine; felt fine, got along fine. But then professionals stepped in to let me know that this was a cancer which would begin to grow and spread all over my body like kudzu on the banks of an Interstate highway in Alabama. And the scary part of that is, it could spread like that with few symptoms showing themselves on the outside until it was too late. Once the cancer gets a major portion of the body… well, you might as well lie down and let the kudzu bury you.
But still I protested, “I am not eaten up with hate! It’s not spreading! It’s just these idiots who are screwing up this country…” Well, finally I had to realize that hatred always corrupts the soul or portions of the soul. It is sort of like a “gateway drug” to hardness and harshness. And then I started thinking about my friends and the people I am comfortable with… they all had the same political points of view as me. Of course! Who would hang out with those imbeciles who believe that _________ or who are in favor of ___________? It was around this time as I was thinking through these issues that I remember talking with a friend (a true friend… you know… one who had the same political stance as me) and he talked about this great guy he played racquetball with on Tuesdays. He talked about how much he admired him and he told me how much fun this guy was AND that he was diametrically opposite (from us) politically! I didn’t say it out loud but I thought, “How could you spend time with a guy like that? And even stranger still, how could you admire and like someone like that?”
The cancer had spread. The kudzu was killing the grass and the trees. I had become totally unaware of how my “innocent" TV-persona hatred had worked it’s way into one of the core sectors of my life: who I associated with and who I thought was worthy to be loved. There it was ugly, writhing, wiggling and slimy like a slug who’s had salt sprinkled on his back. (Did you ever do that as a kid?) I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the looks of it. I was stunned at the disgusting idea that I hated people because they saw the world differently from me.
I am much more than my political views. I am much more than my theological bent. I am much more than my philosophy of life. Do these things comprise a large part of me? Yes. But they are not who I am. I am made in the image of God. His glory is the very foundation of my being. Even before a theology or a philosophy crosses my mind, I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
And so are they.
I am attempting to change my ways... and my heart.
We STRONGLY encourage your comments and dialogue in the Comments section below. Would lov to know if anyone has had a similar experience of hating public figures only to realize that they are people too. Do you think that they are our neighbors?
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