Are love and hatred really about you?

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Ilya Shambat

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Dec 3, 2021, 1:26:14 AM12/3/21
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I have encountered a claim that people love others for traits that they have themselves, and I have also encountered a claim that people hate others for traits in themselves that they reject. That is not always true.

People love others for traits that they value, and they hate others for traits that they dislike, whether or not they themselves have these traits.

The women I've loved had some things in common with me and some things different from me. They were all, like me, interested in creative pursuits and philosophically minded. However they were also different from me in many ways. Michelle was kind, warm and compassionate when at that time in my life I was quite mean-spirited. Julia was joyful and optimistic when I am quite morose. Melanie was brave, strong-minded and good with people, which I am not. And of course all of them were beautiful, when I get both positive and negative comments on my appearance. I loved the traits that they had that I did not have as well as the traits that they had that I did.

With people whom I have hated, I had a few similarities to some but very few to others. I hated them for traits that I disliked, whether or not I had these traits. In most cases I didn't. I hated men who beat their wives and rape their children, because I do not like to see women beaten and children raped. I hated the Spanish colonialists for what they did to the Incas, the Moores and the Aztecs. I hated the people who burn the Amazonian rainforest because I do not like to see precious treasures destroyed. I hated the 1990s feminists because of their malice. And I hated the gangsters and the Russian mafia because of their cruelty and destructiveness. Of all these, probably the only ones with whom I have anything in common at all are the feminists – who, like me, were brainy people who had been unattractive in high school and did not like how they were treated.

As for such claims as that love is more powerful than hatred, that needs to be discussed. I do not believe that one emotional state is more powerful than another; but it may very well be that one becomes more effective in dealing with people when he understands them, and understanding builds compassion which then builds love. It may very well be that hating people makes you a worse person and loving them makes you a better person. It may very well be that the more you focus on people you hate you become more like them, and the more you focus on people you love the more you become like them. The mechanism for this is not hatred or love. The mechanism for this is focus.

In short, I do not believe that love or hatred is about what traits you have, but about what traits you hold in high or low esteem. This is the case whether or not you have the same qualities. The people whom I have loved had some traits that I had and others that I did not have but valued. Most of the people I hated – with some exceptions - were not like me at all. As I seek to let go of hatred and acquire a more forgiving attitude, I am looking for positives in other people whether or not they have any similarity to my own personal qualities. And of these there are many, and many have valuable things to teach me and anyone else.

Ilya Shambat
https://sites.google.com/site/ilyashambatthought
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