“They hated me without a cause.” (Psalms 29: 15). And in a more recent translation, “They hate me fervently”. Was the one who translated that into Arabic aware of what it entails to consider hatred as the antonym of love? Is not it much worse than that? There are degrees in love. But hatred is enmity itself in such a way that not one iota of love remains in the one who hates.

Primarily it is the severance of the other from yourself and it is the in-harboring of his death in you even though you do not mean to kill him physically out of fear of the consequences it might incur on you legally; or that you do not have enough courage in you to destroy the other. But the desire of killing is there in you at any rate. There is no ‘half hatred’ or‘quarter hatred’. There is a sense of murder in you that you are afraid of accomplishing. The ‘self’ in you, and here I mean your inner core, dislikes the one you hate; and you do not get together even in the imagination because for you, even in that, he does not exist. Deep in yourself you think of destroying the other. As such there are those who hate. The love that is poured down on them makes no effect in them. There are those who are closed in with hatred and those who are open to love. This is what Paul says is the mystery of evil and we do not get to know how people get closed in their darkness and why they welcome such darkness to start with. We notice that this happens because people get hurt from others treat them harshly or offend them with words; they cannot tolerate that and so they see the other as killing them and destroying them and as a result they read the existence of those who offend them negatively as if they (the offenders) want to annihilate them.

There is a reason for the above offenses happen, but the cause is a major one that is not considered as a psychological defect but is understood to be the inner passions that unleashed themselves wantonly between the offender and the one offended. In that case, there is a digression from what is normally rational or familiar, as such getting into a whirlpool of passions that cannot be understood by logic since we cannot find a link between the offense that took place and the reaction to that offense. When the link between what the offender does and the response of the one offended is absent, then that means that we have digressed from the normal and reasonable and entered into the world of madness.

Here we have departed from the realm of rational judgment, of reason and gotten into the realm of utter emotion and whims. That is why the Bible says “they hated me without a cause”. And the cause became over dramatized to the point that we can say that “they hated me without a cause”. What is the path that brings one to hatred? Here St. Dorotheos of Gaza comes to my help; he says: “Rancor is one thing and hatred is another” And then he speaks also of disaffection and annoyance. Our ascetics knew what sin is down to its minute details. And from their knowledge of sin they got to what is like the science of psychology.

In the Old Testament, anger and hatred are associated together as if anger is an outward expression of hatred. Anger is likened to fire. It burns the one who harbors it and the one on whom it is poured. There also is talk about the anger of God, but this is only a simile. There also is hope in that Book. No doubt that, for those who are righteous, it is possible to get free from the passions; and the way I see it, hatred is a great passion that only a storm of love that comes down from the Lord can hit it; this is so because the heart is by nature susceptible to be bombarded by hatred, and strongly so.

The rancor of those who hate has often fallen on us due to envy. There are those who do not want to see you as gifted or successful or beautiful or eloquent or pure or saintly. So they haul on you all the drawbacks which they invent in order to destroy you in a “nice” way. And often they gossip against you so that they can spoil your reputation making you a robber, and thief, and a liar, and do not be surprised at that even though none of what they say applies to you. There are those who have the desire to destroy others though what they say wrongly of them might not spread much. Few turn away a lie; most people are naïve and simple so the false accusation against you might remain for tens of years; no one turns it away.

Many of those who are honest are not believed for what they say; it is easier to believe those who lie. Quite often you are a victim forever, and God alone “sees” you (know you in that) and He alone justifies you. And that might never get known by the others in this life. And you have to be content with the justification of the Lord so that you do not fall into sorrow and as such you weep alone, and only the Lord wipes away every tear from your eyes.

You hold the one who hates you with the only power you have. Forgiveness. Though nothing ascertains that forgiveness would heal the enemy, but you have no other way; it was said: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you and do good to those who persecute you …… for if you love those who love you, what reward do you get?” (Matth. 5: 44-46).

Our hope is that healing would come to those who hate so that the world will become righteous. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” But that does not bring us to despair, but would lead us to great suffering because we desire that people be saved.

The salvation of the world is a strife and non-ceasing prayer on the part of those who sanctify themselves. Love has the victory in the end though we might not behold that during our lifetime. Hope is also a strife and we are saved on Hope.

We cannot antagonize the evildoers. We do not hate them. We hate the evil they do. We do not hate those who hate. We do not despair of their repentance; and when they return to the Lord, nothing gives us joy as much as that does because only their repentance saves their souls from their sins. O for the day when those who hate get into the Resurrection!

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “البغض” – An Nahar – 17.11.2012