Indifference, they say, hurts more than hatred. That is something I tend to agree with. There is a certain coldness that comes with indifference. When people are indifferent about you, your situation, or your feelings, it could be because you do not matter to them much.
People are indifferent toward those who care the least or do not care at all. Indifference, in some ways, gives the impression of being non-existent in the face of the other. It gives the impression that you are unimportant to others. One of my friends, who lives in a western country, once told me that she misses being teased on the street by boys.
In Ethiopia, being teased by men and boys on the street is considered harassment, disrespect for women, or undermining women.
In most of the Western world, staring at another human being for more than a certain amount of time is considered a crime, let alone being teased by men. I’ve often felt invisible while walking down a European street because people avoid making eye contact.
So, in some ways, I can see where my friend’s statement came from. I’m not suggesting that teasing women about how they dress or how they look in general is acceptable.
I am just saying that my friend preferred “harassment” to indifference because the former made her feel noticed, present, and alive. It gave her the impression that she was important and that her appearance was important. People were concerned.
My point is not to draw a parallel between hatred and indifference. What I really wanted to talk about was hatred.
How much can one person despise another? I often wonder if hatred can’t be softened with love and care. Can a hater’s opinion of you change, or are there pure haters who will continue to hate you no matter how good, caring, and loving you are to them?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned about myself that I can’t have pure hatred for someone. And by “pure hatred”, I mean hatred that cannot be mitigated by care, affection, love, or forgiveness.
Perhaps I am seeing things through my own eyes, but I often believe that there is no such thing as pure hatred. Every person has a tiny portion of themselves that is ready to replace hatred with love and forgiveness.
There are people who have a strong hatred for people of a certain ethnic background or race, which is why there have been and continue to be racial conflicts throughout history.
Some hatred appears unjustified, or at least incomprehensible to me. I don’t understand that kind of hatred. What I’m referring to is the kind of hatred that people have for others who they believe have wronged them.
People often hate because they have been hurt or wronged. This level of hatred is justified. However, I am a firm believer in the reversibility of justified hatred. People, as I previously stated, hate others because they have been hurt. They had some expectations and felt betrayed and resentful when those expectations were not met.
This kind of hatred, I believe, can be overcome by genuine forgiveness. Is there such a thing as an unforgivable sin? Those who consider themselves saints are unable to forgive, whereas those who recognize that they are sinners are able to forgive easily.
Of course, as they say, forgiveness is not the same as forgetting. It also does not imply that trust has been restored.
Forgiving means letting go of the choking feeling of hatred and resentment that is strangling us. I believe that with forgiveness comes an understanding of the situation in which the other person was when they hurt us.
To forgive, we must imagine ourselves in the same situation as the person we despise was when they hurt us, and sympathize with them.
So, if we have a person who we believe hates us because of something we did to them, if we have the courage to ask for heartfelt forgiveness, they will find the courage to forgive us!