I don’t really understand hatred. I have felt it in my heart at times to a degree, but it is never a pleasant feeling. I don’t understand people who make hatred of others a habit or adopt it as a philosophy of life.
Misanthropy is a particular brand of hatred that makes absolutely no sense to me. It is the hatred of humankind. How can a person hate humankind in general? Doesn’t that mean you would hate yourself, since you are a member of the species you hate? There is no logic in that philosophy and no useful purpose as far as I can see.
You might be wondering how I came to this topic. Well, today in the office we were talking about strange relatives, and I immediately thought of a cousin of mine who is an admitted misanthrope. He writes articles and music about hatred and spends time with those who hate. When I mentioned him to my co-workers I kind of laughed about being related to such a person, but then when I got back to my office and thought about it more it made me sad, and got me wondering how a person ends up like that. I haven’t seen this cousin in over 30 years, but I don’t remember him being the person he has become through years of practicing a philosophy of misanthropy.
I prefer the alternative. I prefer to love humankind, flawed though we may be. I admit that I am irritated sometimes by people who drive too slow, or cut me off in traffic, or refuse to respond to my emails, or can’t seem to understand a simple explanation or instructions. I do sometimes become irritated, but it doesn’t rise to the level of a misanthrope.
But as I thought about this more I realized that in those moments of irritation (and even a feeling of disgust for the “stupid and annoying” people), I am not much different than my cousin. I may not have embraced a philosophy of misanthropy, but I, in that moment in time, practice such a philosophy.
I am thankful that the Holy Spirit does not allow me to stay in those moments. Jesus told His disciples (and us), “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26. Jesus told us to love our neighbors and our enemies (Matthew 5:44), to forgive others when they sin against us (Matthew 6:14), that if we are meek we will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), and that if we are peacemakers we will be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9). The Holy Spirit reminds me of these things that Jesus taught me, in those moments when I become irritated by my fellow human beings.
I am thankful, too, that God is not a misanthrope. He does not hate His creation, though He sometimes hates what we do. He loves us enough to ensure a way for us to be with Him for eternity and to know His heart here and now. May His Holy Spirit work in the hearts of all of humankind so that we might love one another as He loves us.