Let’s talk about hate, which is probably not anyone’s favorite topic!

First, most humans have some hate, although most of us would not admit it. Hate is just an energy, like any emotion is energy, although it is a very intense and socially unacceptable emotion.

Hate is common among anyone who was hurt, abused, or grew up afraid or helpless. Hate is like an extreme form of anger, not unlike rage, that can be used to attack or protect or wall oneself off, albeit usually unconsciously.

So in this sense, hate is not bad, although it can certainly be used to do harm. The problem is that we are not taught what hate is or what to do about it. We often project it, blame or hate this person or that skin color or that gender.

Beneath the hate is always some pain, and this we will do anything to avoid. People who hate are often very hurt, scared people, sometimes bullies. We need compassion and tough love for these people, and for ourself.  James Baldwin said, “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hate so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

Now, as I speak about hate, some of us might feel a tad self-righteous, thinking, yes, those right-wingers are full of hate, and Donald Trump is giving people the freedom to express their rage out at the world, whether it be Muslims or Mexicans. Be careful here. Hate did not begin with Trump; it has been around a long time. And like any energy, it needs to move, in as healthy a way as possible.

Hate knows no party lines. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”

Many of us feel we are the tolerant, loving people, but the left often fears and hates the right. It’s not just the right hating the left. Our declaration of love of tolerance can turn into hatred of intolerance. We become intolerant of those we perceive as intolerant.

When hate appears in one’s life, we have a grand opportunity to walk into the fire of one of humanity’s most intense emotions. If you can make peace with and somehow integrate hate, you can handle just about any intense emotion. Author and healer Barbara Ann Brenna said, “Through the gateway of feeling your hate, lies your capacity to love.”

I want to share another quote by transgender civil rights activist Pauli Murray: “When my brothers try to draw a circle to exclude me, I shall draw a larger circle to include them.”

Inclusion is the answer to hate. We include those we perceive as the problem. We take back our projections. And we include, with courageous self-honesty, the whole range of our emotional experience. We exclude nothing, and we breathe deeply and face and feel and integrate every part of our humanity. We go beyond merely tolerating and turn hate into compassion. We embrace our own and everyone’s suffering. The only antidote to hate is love.