Tag Archives: hate

Please be an intolerant Pagan

I’m an intolerant Pagan, and I invite you to join me.

If we start from the premise of ‘an it harm none, do what you will’ then we don’t need to tolerate people who are just getting on with their lives and their Paganism. Diversity doesn’t need our tolerance – diversity is a good thing. We don’t need to all think, feel, practice or believe in the same ways. Paganism has always been a tad individualistic and we do not need dogma to affirm us. We can argue, or agree, we can accept and reject each other based on whether we get along, but we should never have to tolerate each other.

I like diversity, I embrace and welcome it. I am comfortable with beliefs, practices and ways of life other than my own. If you’re just getting on with your life and not hurting anyone, what you do is none of my business, and tolerance is not part of the mix.

I will not tolerate people who spread hatred and wish harm to others. I will not tolerate people who think they are entitled to force their views onto other people. I don’t tolerate abuse, bullying, racism, sexism, oppression, cruelty, violence, threats.  I’ve got no time for hatred.  At the moment I don’t have a lot of energy for active fighting of anything much, but I will move away from anyone who I can’t tolerate. I will not give them a platform.

The right to free speech is not the right to an audience. It isn’t the right to be heard and it most certainly isn’t the right to be tolerated.

So if anyone suggests that you’re being intolerant by not giving them a place at your table, tell them you know, and that this is because you aren’t a tolerant person. Don’t let your kindness, your inclusiveness and your generosity be weaponised against you. If you find something intolerable, you do not owe it a fair listen. Tolerance is just a way of enabling stuff we don’t really want. I don’t want to live in a tolerant society, I want to live in a fair, inclusive and diverse society free from haters.  Equally, I do not want to be tolerated, I want to be safe.

Contemplating hate

Hate isn’t an emotion we talk about much. Other people, of course, are haters, and using hate speech, but we don’t so often discuss the role hate may play in our own lives. It’s not a socially acceptable emotion, for the greater part. To express it, most people need to feel part of a group that’s doing the same, and to be sure they are justified. Hate doesn’t always come naturally or easily to us, we may have to work up to it and invest energy in feeling it.

Hate goes with revulsion and rejection. We save our hate for the things and people we feel are most unlike us, so it can be an emotion that does a lot to define us. Which if you end up hating haters, can get complicated!

Hating people is an exhausting business and can put them at the centre of your world. Focus too much on hating someone and you can end up more like them. You give them space in your mind and life, and the attention you pay to that hate is no great joy. However, hate is also a powerful emotion, and this is no doubt part of why we have a long history or cursing as part of magical traditions. We all like to think our hate is valid, justified and reasonable, and most of us won’t look at it too hard to make sure this is true.

I think we should hate oppression, exploitation and cruelty. We should hate needless suffering, environmental degradation, extinction, and the loss of beauty from the world. These things are not people, and I think that’s important too. There is a world of difference between hating what a person does, and hating a person. When you hate a person, it tends to be about things that are intrinsic to them – race, culture, religion, gender. It’s not about them changing, it is about having power over them, to control, limit and oppress. When you hate what a person does, there’s all the room for them to do something different, and that’s probably what you’re aiming for. If you are canny, you’ll hide the hate in order to try and persuade them to change.

Hate can be a great motivator. It is a recognition of absolute unacceptability. It can be a key part of defining our values and it is not an emotion a person needs to automatically feel ashamed of. We just have to remember that hating doesn’t entitle us to anything, nor does it prove much. How we express it, and why, is what will define us as people.

Hatred, forgiveness and druidry

In the Christian tradition, the idea of forgiveness can be very important. I should pause here to distinguish between more liberal forms of Christianity – which I think of as Jesus-centric, and the kind of right wing Christianity which takes its inspiration from the angry bits of the Old Testament. Not having a book to turn to for wisdom quotes, it’s down to individual druids to decide whether they want to forgive those who wrong them. I like this. I prefer to make ethical judgements as situation specific as possible. My experience has been that one-size-fits-all positions always have moments when they don’t really hold up.

There are a number of interesting considerations here. What does the act of forgiving, or not forgiving do to my own sense of self? Who do I want to be? What we forgive defines something of who we are. Do we forgive serial killers? Child abusers? Those who commit genocide? Or is it better to hold a position of anger and hatred there? Do we follow the Catholic model of hating the sin and loving the sinner? And equally, the refusal to forgive small shortcomings, minor offences. On a previous blog someone remarked about being told off for leaving the washing up liquid open. Who do we become when we insist on punishing the smallest failings and the most imaginary of slights?

Then we might consider whether the other person in some way merits forgiveness. Where apology is offered, attempts are made to redress the balance, errors atoned for and justice voluntarily respected, it is not hard to forgive a person. Not least because it feels more like human error than malice, and we all make mistakes. Compassion for the unwitting errors of others has to be a good thing. But what about the person who is unrepentant? Is it appropriate to forgive someone who is full of self justification, a sense of entitlement, or superiority? A person who would do the same thing again given the chance? This is a sticking place for me.

Carrying hatred about can be a lot of hard work. Hatred is a large, fierce, all consuming kind of emotion that can warp and twist all aspects of a person into its service. The Revenge Tragedy genre is full of stories about the violence that comes from hatred. Think Hamlet, Othello, Titus Andronicus. Interestingly, other themes in this genre are pride, hubris, and jealousy. They do tend to go together. Pride can be a huge barrier to forgiveness. Jealousy can invent offences, and succumbing to hatred can lead us to self destruction. We won’t all end up like Hamlet or Othello, but hatred can so readily sap the joy and humanity out of us. I think that’s too high a price to pay for the sake of the people who have wronged you. There are also a lot of stories out there about people who, in their hatred, end up turning into the very thing they wanted to destroy. That’s not a path I would care to walk.

On the whole, my experience of Druidry pushes me towards a desire to live with compassion and to try and understand those around me. It does not incline me to cultivate jealousy, resentment, or malice. These things do me no good at all, and I care about that! But part of my ability to hold boundaries has to include recognition of the unacceptable, and ways of dealing with that. Where there is relationship and meaningful exchange, forgiveness is not difficult for me. To err is human. It’s what we do after those mistakes that really gives me the measure of a person. If someone has the courage to apologise, or to make good, to ask how they can fix things, and the decency to act, then it soon feels that there really was nothing that needed forgiving. This is a line I try to walk, whilst trying to make sure I am not pushed into apologising any more for things not of my making, for imaginary offences, or for the consequences of other people’s jealousy. Again, when there is real and honourable relationship, I have found these just do not exist as issues.

I have found an answer, which works for me, when it comes to things I find unforgivable. It is a solution that means I do not cart a weight of hatred with me, and it protects me from being eaten up with anger. The answer, I think, is pity. Because whatever an unforgivable person has done, they have to live with it, and with being the kind of individual their actions reveal. To be beyond my capacity for forgiveness, they would have to have no visible signs of honour, no integrity, no capacity to admit a mistake and no capacity for good relationship. And ye gods, is that something to pity.