Summary: We live in a world consumed with hate and anger, but why? And what can be done?
If we were to ask you to name the opposite of a particular word it would be easy, right? Up, down. Right, left or right, wrong. In, out. Black, white. Happy, sad. What about love? You are thinking that would be easy, hate? Maybe anger? American psychologist, Rollo May stated “Hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is.” Perhaps, but most of us don’t struggle with apathy. But if I was a betting man I’d be willing to wager that there are folks here today who struggle with hatred and anger. You only have to turn on the news to discover that we live in an angry world, a world that is more often than not defined by hatred rather than by love.
Riots, wars and persecution are more often the fruit of anger rather than apathy. The news talks about hate crimes or sometimes you’ll hear that someone has been accused of committing a crime of passion, but that passion is the passion of anger.
Two weeks ago I spoke about how carelessly we use the word love, we love this and we love that. But obviously there are different degrees of love because we don’t love our children in the same way that we love our favorite TV show, we don’t love our spouse like we love pizza. Or at least I’d hope not.
And we carelessly use the word hate in much the same way, I hate brussel sprouts, I hate “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, seriously I find it disturbing that people enjoy watching the misfortunes of others, I hate rap music, I hate anchovies on my pizza, I hate when you do that. And some people might add, I hate that person. On Monday morning after I started work on this message I came out of Tims and someone had snugged up close to my Smart Car, come on it only takes a half a parking spot people, and my first response was “I hate when people do that.” But do I really? Sure it bugs me, but does it make me wish ill on the person who did it?
And for many people hate and anger are intertwined. And they excuse it. “That’s just the way I am. I’ve always been angry, it’s the way I was raised, my parents were angry people.” Or they blame other people, “I wouldn’t get angry if they didn’t act that way.” “They deserve my hatred.” “They hate me.”
But while it may be true that you’ve always been an angry person you don’t have to remain an angry person. It may be true that you were brought up in an angry household that doesn’t mean you need to continue the cycle. Do you want your children to be angry hateful people? Do you want them to use the same excuse that you use? “My father, or my mother was an angry person, they taught me to hate.”
You know my philosophy of choices. We are what we choose to be. We do what we choose to do. And we are a product of our choices. We are where are today as a result of choices we made yesterday.
And some people find that a discouraging thought, but it is really liberating because when we accept that we are where we are today as a result of choices we made yesterday then we can determine where we will be tomorrow by the choices we make today.
Emotions are a part of who we are, two weeks ago I spoke about how we were created as emotional beings. But listen up we will either control our emotions or they will control us. And there is no place that is truer than when it comes to our anger and our hatred. Today you will have the opportunity to choose to not be angry any more. Because as pithy and clichéique as it might be: Today truly is the first day of the rest of your life.
And this is important. Listen to Jesus’ warning in Matthew 5:22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. Wow. Let’s read that again. Matthew 5:22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.
It was Martin Luther King Jr. who said “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”