When you throw a ball as hard as you can into the sky, it will arc and fall to the ground some distance away. When you throw a ball as hard as you can into the ground, it will plant itself at your feet. Either act expends a great deal of energy.
Every moment you spend on hate is a moment you could have been loving. Every moment you spend passing judgment on someone else’s words or actions is a moment you could have been working to improve your own words or actions.
It takes energy to tear down, and it takes energy to build up.
There is no more destructive scream of consciousness than: I hate you! or I hate this! There is no more exhilarating scream of consciousness than I love you!
Jesus said a lot of wise things, but he boiled it all down to two essential purposes:
Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. And in case you didn’t quite grasp who “your neighbor” is, at a different time and place he suggested that you love your enemy.
Although it might be hard to live by those principles in a world where it seems most people don’t, consider for a moment the positive personal effect of loving even those who hate you. Consider what anger and hatred feel like: Your chest tightens, your stomach churns and you begin to lose control of your emotions.
From the beginning of time, though, this so often has been our default position. There always has to be an “us” and a “them,” and being “not us” has consequences: We seek to punish the other, either through something as benign as disdain and dismissal or as malignant as death and war.
That’s why people like Jesus are so revolutionary. Love your enemy? Absurd!
But what if we tried?
What if, when the urge to become enraged or hateful begins to well up, you make a conscious effort to forgive the object of your anger – to love that person?
Consider what real love feels like: The sense of peace, the joy, the release of tension. Letting go of anger and hatred, choosing instead to forgive, doesn’t just benefit the one who offended you – it benefits you, physically and emotionally.
Make a conscious effort to love your enemy, and after a while you may find you have no enemies left – except perhaps those who insist on enmity as a way of life. Hate takes a lot of energy, and if you return hate with love long enough and hard enough, it’s almost inevitable that the one who was once your enemy will begin to think you’re not such a bad person after all.
Waste no time on hate or judgment. Practice loving your neighbor – even that “neighbor” who cut you off in traffic, and even that neighbor who holds a different political philosophy than yours.
Aim your passions for the sky. Like the ball thrown up and away instead of straight down, you will reach much farther.