The Flaw is in Hating

I wrote a post on Facebook a long time ago (years!) about the flaw not being in WHO you hate, but THAT you hate. This is me capturing a thought line on the subject for posterity (and for the Fediverse, because I haven’t inflicted myself enough on the Fediverse for my satisfaction yet, apparently.)

“The flaw is not in what groups you hate. The flaw is in hating.”

I’d forgotten having written that, but I’m not sure it’s wrong. It also got me thinking.

It’s representative, to be sure. It’s not any better to hate one group than another, even if different groups deserve different visceral reactions.

Once you open the door to hate, it becomes a weed, a stain on your soul, spreading and growing.

So I started evaluating myself, thinking of possibilities. How do I feel about each group, and why? How compliant am I with my own assertion?

I don’t expect to be fully compliant, after all; I’m not perfect in this any more than any other way. Weeds are “a thing.” So is hate.

  1. Nazis. Communists. By extension, Leftists, and Rightists. (Think of it as a scale: Nazis, Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Communists. How do I feel about the people who occupy edges?) It turns out I largely don’t care about the *people* who feel subscribe to these political movements; my only concern is how these political agendas are expressed in public life. Be a Communist if you like. Advocate Communist ideals. Be a Nazi if that’s how you are. I won’t agree with you, but I’ll certainly try to respect you, because if I don’t, how will we EVER manage to build a bridge such that we might convince each other of anything? I believe Nazism is wrong; if my goal is to convince you of that, how will my hatred further my goal at all?
  2. People of a different skin color, haha! Yeah, right. I had to throw this in, but it made me smile to write it; I have relatives of “different colors,” and the idea of hating someone because they look different would be… ironic at best. After all, *I* “look different.” And my melanin levels ain’t exactly pure, whatever that means, either. Hatred of people with different eyes, or hair, or skin, or physical attributes… hah, no.
  3. People of a different religion, or people of MY OWN religion that believe theologically incompatible things. Nope. There’s an incredible array of experiences out there, and just because someone’s different experiences lead them to different conclusions – or they’ve accepted conclusions that fit cultural influences – doesn’t give me a good reason to hate them. I can disagree with them – often energetically, I guess, because I have strong emotions myself – but hatred? Nah. After all, I’m sure I’m an apostate to someone out there.
  4. People who hate me. … Uh, no. Why would I let someone else’s emotions dictate my own? If they hate me, why would I ever let THEIR HATE guide me? if I want to be in opposition to them, why wouldn’t I simply choose to ignore their feelings of resentment? (Besides, this approach usually annoys them to no end. Not only is it less strain on my own cognitive abilities, but if they get annoyed that I don’t hate them back… I win!)
  5. People who serve me poorly, or people who treat me poorly. Nope. Can’t do it. These are usually two different groups; people who “serve me poorly” would be, like, waiters or people who fulfill my requests incorrectly. Look, misteaks happen; maybe I expressed myself unclearly, maybe they’re just having a bad day, maybe they just missed something. It’s not a big deal. I can’t understand people who go off on the service industry, no matter WHAT service industry it might be.

    And those who treat me poorly? Well, I already mentioned people who hate me – previous point, right? – but people who treat me poorly would do so without malice, I guess, just being myopic or self-serving. But if I can’t bring myself to hate those who treat me poorly deliberately, maliciously… how could I ever justify hating someone who treats me poorly by accident, as it were, because they don’t really recognize how I feel about how they act toward me?
  6. People who suffer in comparison to me, people who “have it worse.” Likewise, people who are blessed in comparison to me, those who “have it better.” Heh, no. I would love to “have it better,” and thank God I don’t “have it worse,” and I try to treat others as I’d like to be treated in their circumstance; if it’s someone who “has it worse” than me, I want to see their situation improve, and someone who “has it better,” well, if I were in their position I wouldn’t want someone tearing me down. Can’t hate either group.
  7. People who do what I wish I were able to, or people who resent what I am able to do. See prior point. I’d rather teach those who wish to do as I can, and someone who resents what I am able to do while they cannot? Well… I mean… why would I let that affect how I feel?

I identified one group that did actually cause a visceral negative reaction, and toward those I think I would have to say I have hatred:

Anyone who’d rather die than let someone else live. This covers a remarkably wide set of people, unfortunately: people who’d deliberately murder, or rape. People who would hurt a child. People who’d steal for their own amusement or benefit without need. People who consume others.

That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in redemption; a murderer can grow and recognize their error. A rapist is harder to forgive, but if I say redemption is possible, I either believe it or don’t. (A core political flaw I see every day on Facebook is related to this: people imply “yes, people can change, but not THAT person, ever. I will never, can never, forgive. Here’s a scarlet letter to put on your forehead forever.”)

I don’t believe in my right or ability to eternally condemn someone else. I’m not God, or whatever would be in that role – and I don’t believe society is in that role, either.

But I think that my “group of people I hate” – being those who cannot countenance others – attempts to expand itself daily. People jump into the group willingly, in the name of virtue signalling and appeal to others, others whose names they do not know, and whose approval is fickle and entirely dependent on the demonstrated willingness to disapprove.

It takes constant effort for me not to relearn resentment.


On a reread, it stands out to me in today’s political climate that I left gender and sexuality out of my list of groups that might be hated. In retrospect, that would have been somewhere in the first three or four of the “list,” I guess, being similar to the other entries in that region.

But my opinion about those of different gender and/or sexuality … well, my feelings about such people should be obvious. Why would I hate anyone because of their gender? Why would I dislike anyone because of who they like? How would that make any sense at all? Their choices and physical attributes do not affect me, why would I feel so strongly as to hate them?

Of course, there are people who act poorly – regardless of their internal or external attributes. But I covered that at the end of the original post, and there’s nothing unique about gender or sexuality that would require any additional explanation.

Solutions are not One-Size Fits All

One of the most enjoyable things about being on social media – especially a “new social media” like Mastodon – is seeing all of the energy people represent for solving the problems they see.

It’s also one of the worst things about new environments, because people have a natural myopia in how they see problems that have solutions, and they tend to see their solution – something that works – as the solution.

One of the most enjoyable things about being on social media – especially a “new social media” like Mastodon – is seeing all of the energy people represent for solving the problems they see.

It’s also one of the worst things about new environments, because people have a natural myopia in how they see problems that have solutions, and they tend to see their solution – something that works – as the solution.

When I first started writing, it was for Alan Williamson at Java Developer Journal. Alan – who is a great guy – and I had some arguments about Java’s direction and future, if I recall – Alan was seeing cracks in the edifice, and I thought his writing about those cracks was a little … overblown, shall we say, and he challenged me to put five hundred words in print for it.

I’m a sucker for challenges like that, so naturally I did it – and it turned into a series of op-ed closers for JDJ, and those turned into my joining the editorial staff as an editor for J2EE, and that eventually turned into a position as Editor-in-Chief for JDJ for a short while, until the owner and I had a crisis of intent and I resigned, because he was doing things with my name on the masthead with which I could not have approved, ever.

It was his product, and he had every right to use it how he saw fit – but I couldn’t attach my name to it. It didn’t matter if I agreed with him or not in his feelings about the matter; I just couldn’t be part of it.

But one of my favorite op-ed pieces for JDJ was an editorial called “There Is No Magic Bullet,” if memory serves. (I cannot find a copy of it online at the moment; there’s a site that says they have archives but it’s down as I write this. Joy!)

The summary should be pretty obvious: I was writing that there’s no one-size fits all solution. You get to solve each problem as it comes to you, examining axiomatically. That’s why we write new programs, day after day after week after year, because every problem is different. Even when problems have similar solutions, their starting points are not the same.

People on social media probably remember this – but social media doesn’t give you the room to observe it, so even if they remember that magic bullets aren’t real, they rarely say it out loud.

And since they can’t say it where others can see it (or hear it, I guess), they end up training themselves to stop thinking it, because it’s wasted thought.

So: want to solve carbon crisis? Electric vehicles everywhere! Today!

… Electric vehicles are a magic bullet. What works in a specific capitol city isn’t going to work in the rural areas. Fuel supply for hydrogen vehicles, even electric grid support for EVs… the problems there are going to be the same as they were for mixed-fuel vehicles. Those rural areas would be crippled by the mandates being demanded and dictated.

Here’s the thing: those rural areas, despite representing so few votes and surely being populated by GOP-voting morons, are where the cities get their food from.

It’s important to have data centers with highly paid devops staff, lawyers, accountants, high end coffee shops, clothing stores where the smallest purchase is $400 USD. But if the people who run those places die from starvation, none of those things matter. The lights go off, the cockroaches and the rats take over, the stone we’re on keeps revolving around the sun.

People in the cities who burden the people who feed them are playing stupid games and can only win stupid prizes if they lose.

The magic bullets the literati keeps suggesting, over and over again, without reprieve or reason or limit, would cripple the literati, and kill them in many cases.

That’s why the trucker protest in Canada was such a big deal, after all: Canada messed around and found out, in a very small way, what they were doing, and as a result went martial law, because why bother learning when you have political power and a system that has subjects instead of citizens, right?

Subjects can be dictated to. That’s what happened to the truckers, who had a legitimate protest.

In the United States, so far we’re still citizens. We’re a little harder to dictate to, no matter what our politicians keep trying. We comply, because we’ve had sixty years of our education system demanding compliance, but our core is still steel and what we’re seeing today is a little more spine than we’ve had for a while; compliance isn’t working, and can’t work.

It’s funny, too, because the grievance culture is planting the seeds of its own opposition: if it’s okay to protest in the name of what’s right, and what’s “right” depends on your context, well, that means a farmer actually has the moral impetus to push back when someone says something that endangers their livelihood.

The point is not that our solutions are wrong. Electric vehicles – the example I latched on early in this – are not bad things, at all. I’d prefer a hybrid, myself, but I can see a future in which an EV is right for me… but where I am, right now? An EV would cripple me. I live too far out in the boonies for the grid, and the distances EVs can travel just aren’t good enough yet.

If I lived in a city, my context would be different, and maybe the grid would be powerful enough to charge my EV (and the EVs of all of my neighbors, at the same time), and the distances wouldn’t matter enough; heck, I might just use public transport instead, really.

But … where I live, right now? There is no public transport. I can probably get an Uber or Lyft out here… but realistically, if I can’t drive my own vehicle, I’m begging one of my neighbors, with their gas-fueled cars, for a ride.

Because the solutions I see that mandate EVs are “magic bullets,” and they don’t work for where I live.

And the other thing about magic bullets is that they are, well, magic.

They’re solutions for the general case, often extrapolated from scant data (or no data, in some situations, just hopes and dreams), without testing against the actual real-world situations for which they’re offered.

I’m pretty liberal, when it comes down to it – classically liberal, really, as opposed to what people think of as liberal now. But I’m also fairly conservative in application, because I want change, but I want it to be the right change, and I want it to be advanced through observation.

We have a problem? Okay, what are our options? What do those options mean? What are the long term costs? How long do they take? How long do we have? Is there an emotional investment in a solution? If so, is that wise?

And what I see my fellow humans doing, more than anything else, is screaming “We have a problem! This is the solution!” with no thought, just… react, react, react, with no emotional restraint.

For example, I saw a post about gun control, where the poster was saying “This bad thing with guns happened to me and mine, how can people still have guns when this happened to me?”

I fully empathize. The emotion of being there is a real thing, and I have no intention of invalidate that person’s lived experience.

But rationally… guns were used to attack this person. And their response is to disarm everyone? Is that really the right response?

My thought is that while guns are dangerous (they’re weapons, and represent power, and power is dangerous), the long term response should rationally be that this person’s family should be advocating for a balance of power, not advocating against a balance of power.

You saw this when Trump took office: guns were the worst! But then… the power went to a person we did not and do not like. All of a sudden, guns were part of the resistance that prevented Trump from trying to become a dictator (because of course the military wouldn’t push back, even though it definitely would.)

And during the last six years, the party that was the most anti-gun has been purchasing new guns more than any other sector in the United States.

That’s amusing… and smart.

And it’s a message: that magic bullet (“no guns!”) was a bad solution. That’s how most such advocacy goes, and we should remember it. If it takes longer to type, or longer to say, or even diminishes the impact of your message… choose rationality over extremism.