Most folk, even smokers, would agree that smoking is injurious to one’s health. Prolonged heavy smoking risks lung cancer and divers other ailments, and overall is highly likely to result in a physically limited life and indeed to shorten one’s life. As the old saying goes: if God had meant us to smoke He would have put a chimney in our heads…

No one in their right mind would put their hand into an open fire. Human tissue and fire are not meant to come into contact with each other.

Both these assertions are simply obvious and come under what we can call the ‘natural law’, that is, laws deriving from the observation of natural phenomena.

I think it is demonstrable that we can also state that “human nature finds its fulfilment in love”. We come from love, we live in love, and we will find our destiny in love. To deny that, it seems to me, is to deny our very essence.

The antithesis of this is simply that hate, the opposite of love, impedes our fulfilment and is therefore injurious to our being. We might say that prolonged and intense hatred damages our spiritual, mental and emotional selves (even physical selves…?), in a similar way to how prolonged and heavy smoking damages our vital tissues. Ultimately hate is self destructive – a mantra for losers.

Yet we may feel that hate is thriving in our world today: hatred of others, of doctrines and ideologies, of groups, tribes, races and nations. Hatred even of self.

Hate may be self destructive but it can provide a powerful motivation, as well as give group identity (“them and us”) and a corresponding sense of belonging. It can make of use of all manner of otherwise neutral things like football, religion and ethnic identity to demarcate, caricature and alienate the “others”.

If we think of subject and object, where the subject is the one who hates, and the object is the one being hated, then we can say that often the object is hurt when the subject acts on their hatred, but one thing is clear: the subject is always hurt, whether they realise it or not. Hate is always self destructive because it is contrary to our true nature.

Take for example a lynch mob – the mob may well be impassioned, unstoppable and, on the face of it, joyous in what they do to their victim, but afterwards they cannot individually escape that inner voice condemning them. They may shut it out, with slogans, with get-togethers, with fanatical beliefs, with alcohol or other drugs, but only the most amoral and already soul-damaged individuals would sleep soundly. They cannot know peace. Continued denial of wrong-doing is not peace. Their hearts are diseased. Shrivelled.

When it comes to hate, the object of the hate may well get hurt, but the subject, the one doing the hating is always hurt. Hate is a dead end – a creed for losers.

I would add to this that it is not enough to stop hating. If we really want to know joy and peace, and to experience healing for past wounds, especially self inflicted wounds, we need to pro-actively love, and that includes repairing past damage. Jesus went so far as to say: “Love your enemies”!

We could define love and hatred of others as follows:

hate – always wanting the worst outcome for them;

love – always wanting the best outcome for them.

If there is someone you hate, someone who has perhaps hurt you badly – just decide to stop hating them! You may never get to like them – that isn’t the issue – but for God’s sake take that weight of hatred off your soul!

To the degree that each one of us decides to stop hating and to replace hatred with love, to that degree we can stop the ripples of hate from traversing our world. The antidote to evil and injustice is not violence but love. Jesus not only spoke love, He lived it to the cross.

Peace and joy to you today,