Is Hatred a Public Health Issue?

Definition of hatred from Merriam-Webster: extreme dislike or disgust; ill will or resentment that is usually mutual; prejudiced hostility or animosity

I listened to an interview of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish who is researching hatred and how it has become a public health issue. It’s a very contagious disease spreading across our country. If anyone has reason to hate, it’s him. He lived in Gaza when an Israeli missile hit his house and killed his three daughters and a niece a few months after his wife died of cancer. Yet, he bears no ill will and is working to bring understanding and education for peace between his people and Israel. If he can forgive and seek peace, why can’t we?

The hatred pandemic running rampant across the world is tearing societies apart. Harmony and understanding have been buried under piles of slogans that reflect polar opposites of the issues. Each side waves them around like banners over forts armed for battle or beat their enemies over the heads with them. Lies and rumors are spread to increase and fuel the hate. It’s become very ugly and unhealthy.

Hatred is a toxic emotion, meaning it’s harmful to people. Over time, it changes the chemicals in the brain so that the fight-or-flight responses work overtime. Paranoia and overinflated self-righteousness make people do things they shouldn’t. They fight and hurt others before they can hurt them.

Why do people cling to something that is so bad? The disease has taken hold.

What’s the cure? Here’s a slogan we should recite to ourselves everyday: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, will all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NKJV) If you’re a Christian, you should be listening to and practicing the words of Apostle Paul. If you’re not, it’s still very good advice.

Remember the 1960s when there was so much hate and upheaval going on? These days remind me very much of those times. Some of the popular songs back then were about coming together and loving one another, and giving peace a chance. Maybe it’s time to dust off those lyrics and bring them back. The message needs to be heard again.

Instead of spreading hate (done by spreading lies, hurtful FB posts, and disrespecting others), do something kind for someone. Forgive others for their opinions. Seek peace and pursue it. Do what Jesus said, “…love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be the sons of your Father in Heaven…” (Matthew 5:44-45 NKJV). If that’s too much to remember, repeat something shorter more often, “…overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21 NKJV).

Overcome the disease of hate.

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