HATE

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.
-- Jonathan Swift


Over the centuries, the poets have been much less eloquent about hate than they have been about love, although the topic is every bit as substantial, one of those Big Subjects. There must be at least as many kinds of hatred as there are love: patriotic hatred, racial hatred, personal hatred of various kinds. Hate may even be a result of love, the flip-side of that emotion, the famous fury of the woman scorned. But it is just as often a result of fear, and those forms of hatred in particular have left the poets cold--with the exception of a few cases of patriotic hatred masked as a glorifying privilege and frequently used by governments for propaganda purposes. (Many of the poets in question were in government employ.)

Like love, hate can give meaning to an empty life, but it seems to have a more impersonal quality than love. Hatred is usually expressed in the third person rather than directly; we're more likely to say "I hate him" than "I hate you," (which might very well be a good thing for the human race.) On the other hand, "I love you" is a trite phrase; "I hate you" isn't. Despite the poets' avoidance of the subject, hatred has currency of the hard, compelling sort, and this is an age of hard currency, not gentle persuasions. Hatred has a glamour and intensity love can no longer command. Ours is an era dominated by the forms of hatred, from the war of the sexes to the war of the races to the war of the worlds; an era of militancy, mass murders and moral majorities.

It is the making of the millennium.


War