I was at lunch just the other day with four men who I consider friends. In fact, two of them I consider brothers. One of those brothers I have trusted with my life and I’d trust the other three with my life without hesitation. The one that I HAVE trusted with my life I’d happily storm the gates of Hell with, sure that we’d either come out the other side together or neither of us would come out at all. I share that so that you can understand this: These are four men I hold in high regard and whose opinions I respect. What they say I take to heart and give due consideration, even if it’s something I really don’t enjoy hearing.
During the course of conversation I asked about the health status of a man I’ll refer to as Dan (for the purposes of this message). I’ve known Dan for about 30 years and the animosity between us dates back about that long. He and I attended the police academy together and I said a few things to him that, although true, could have been said in a different way. What I said could have been couched as motivational observation but instead came across as insulting criticism. (I blame my lack of experience and personal skills; sometimes that’s also called “youth”) He has hated me ever since that day. He spent the better part of the past thirty years doing anything he could to harm my reputation and my career and has voiced, on several occasions to a number of people, his desire to ‘put me in the ground’ if he could get away with it.
Now, the folks reading this who know me know that I wouldn’t hesitate even a moment to defend myself and, being honest, I wouldn’t shed a tear if my act of self-defense resulted in his death. He is one of those people whom I think the world would be better off without – but it’s not because of his hatred for me. It’s because of his hatred for darned near everything and everyone except himself.
For all that, Dan currently has nothing but my pity. I do believe he still hates me and would do me harm if he could. Reality is that his own choices, laziness, stubbornness and hatred have left him in a miserable wretched condition, both physically and emotionally. He faces health challenges that have left him a whithered shadow of his former self. He is crippled and suffering every day. He is doing so alone because his behavior toward others has resulted in his having very few people who can tolerate being around him for more than few moments. Those people who used to be his close friends and who now don’t want to be around him, have earned his hatred because of their “betrayal” – as he sees it.
So, back to lunch: I asked about Dan and how he was doing. Last I had heard about him he was in little better condition than he is now and had been given a few months to live. I hadn’t heard that he’d died so I assumed he was still alive, although not kicking, and I was curious. I have, after all, known the man for 30 years. When I found out about his current condition I voiced my pity for him. One of my brothers at the table balked at my statement of pity. I’m paraphrasing but this is what he said in effect:
Let me get this straight. This man has caused you nothing but grief and aggravation for almost 30 years. He’s attacked your career, your credibility and your honor, and you feel pity for him?
I had to reply, “Yes.” Here’s why…
I do truly believe that hatred only hurts the hater. It may sound naïve or idealistic to say, but I believe it’s true. Dan’s hatred of me may well be the fire burning in him that keeps him alive. Apparently, just within the past two weeks he was in the hospital and was given less than a few days to live. Yet he checked himself out and went home and, as far as I know, is alive as I type this.
What purpose would it serve for me to hate him? That would require me to spend time and energy on him. There are certainly better things in my life that I can invest my time and energy in. Pity for the man costs me nothing; no time; no energy; no emotional involvement. Why do I pity him?
Because I don’t believe any human being should suffer the way he is. He has certainly brought it upon himself and I won’t argue with those who say he’s only gotten what he earned and deserves. That may be true but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a human being. At the moment he’s barely alive and has virtually nothing positive in his life. He is in pain and suffering every day and has to face the fact that he’s alone, physically and emotionally, and it’s the result of his own doing. He is a miserable, wretched creature who no one will miss once he’s died and I pity that existence.
My answer, though, spawned a conversation about hared, motivation, life, death, failure, success, legacy and more. Along with my belief that hatred only hurts the hater I also believe that the sweetest revenge any one of us can have on our haters is success. Not just average, every day, pay the bills, provide for the family success, but more-than-you-ever-wished-for success. Recognition, some small measure of fame, popularity, respect… those are things that can be included in success and I guarantee you: if you attain that level of success, those who hate you will have their face rubbed in the fact that their hatred didn’t hurt you or slow you down the least little bit. And that realization will be forced on them without one iota of extra effort on your part. The result may well be that they hate you more, but that hatred will be an outgrowth of their envy – and shame on them for it.
The bottom line remains the same: hatred is an utter waste of time and energy. It serves no positive purpose mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually. What do you gain from it? Nothing but grief and potentially harm to your health. If the person you hate doesn’t care, then what impact are you having? None. The TARGET of the hate can, by the simply act of dismissal, remove 100% of the haters “power,” leaving the hater in a position of only hurting themselves. Rest assured, if I’m going to have negative feelings about someone, those feelings will serve a purpose and have an impact or I won’t waste time on them.
What’s your outlook?
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If you appreciated this blog entry, please check out the author’s book, “Above Dirt: Motivational Thoughts Supporting A Positive Outlook,” available on Kindle HERE.