Hate; or Antipathy?

Posted: March 21, 2007 in Personal Relationships

“I never met a man I didn’t like.” Those are the words of Will Rogers. I have thought about them several times since I first heard them. I have considered them in light of experiences with people I’ve come to know. I’ve asked myself, “Does Will Rogers’ words mean that he never disliked anyone?” I doubt it. What if he meant he gave everybody who he just meant the benefit of the doubt? Could he have followed that short quote with “…But some people strain my sense of good will by their obnoxious behavior”?

So, if we do give everybody we first meet the benefit of the doubt, what are some of the reasons within ourselves that we like or dislike a person after coming to know them? Know, full well, that liking or disliking a person has little to do with their qualities. Sure, there are some qualities of people who do strain our sense of good will; but I take great afflatus from the passage in The Ballad of the Sad Café, by Carson McCullers, that defines love to me in a whole new way:

… The time has come to speak about love. For Miss Amelia loved Cousin Lymon. So much was clear to everyone. They lived in the same house together and were never seen apart. Therefore, according to Mrs. MacPhail, a warty-nosed old busybody who is continually moving her sticks of furniture from one part of the front room to another; according to her and to certain others, these two were living in sin. If they were related, they were only a cross between first and second cousins, and even that could in no way be proved. Now, of course, Miss Amelia was a powerful blunderbuss of a person, more than six feet tall – and Cousin Lymon a weakly little hunchback reaching only to her waist. But so much the better for Mrs. Stumpy MacPhail and her cronies, for they and their kind glory in conjunctions which are ill-matched and pitiful. So let them be. The good people thought that if those two had found some satisfaction of the flesh between themselves, then it was a matter concerning them and God alone. All sensible people agreed in their opinion about this conjecture – and their answer was a plain, flat top. What sort of thing, then was this love?

First of all, love is a joint experience between two persons – but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved. There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored-up love which has lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer. So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world – a world intense and strange, complete in himself. Let it be added here that this lover about whom we speak need not necessarily be a young man saving for a wedding ring – this lover can be a man, woman, child, or indeed any human creature on this earth.

Now, the beloved can also be of any description. The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love. A man may be a doddering great-grandfather and still love only a strange girl he saw in the streets of Cheehaw one afternoon two decades past. The preacher may love a fallen woman. The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else – but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit. A most mediocre person can be the object of a love which is wild, extravagant, and beautiful as the poison lilies of the swamp. A good man may be the stimulus for a love both violent and debased, or a jabbering madman may bring about in the soul of someone a tender and simple idyll. Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself.

It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.


It has been mentioned before that Miss Amelia was once married. And this curious episode might as well be accounted for at this point. Remember that it all happened long ago, and that it was Miss Amelia’s only personal contact, before the hunchback came to her, with this phenomenon – love.


Up to the time I heard her read that passage I had only one reference for true love. That reference was from A Digression on Charity in the bible.

I believe there are no explanations why a person likes, or loves, another person. “Fools give you reasons; wise men never try” is as good an explanation of why as I’ve ever heard; unless you accept the sentiment expressed in the poem “Light, at Thirty-Two”. That is, if you accept that there is a God. If you don’t you delude yourself: you are as a cynic who fancies himself an atheist. Atheists believe they have some hold on knowledge that the rest of us don’t have. Don’t get me wrong. I am not of the mind-set that accepts the belief that there literally is a person who is God. I believe God is an abstraction; the same as Santa Claus in “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”. I came to this belief as I explained the concept of abstraction to my grandson one day when he said that one of his friends told him that Santa Claus is really your parents. I figured it was high time I  read to him the masterpiece of journalism entitled “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”. If you haven’t ever read it, or don’t remember the substance, you should read it (again). For you bible-thumpers who doubt me, try considering the admonition not to make graven images of God.

So, what are some of the reasons – within ourselves – that we dislike or, even hate, a person? I believe the old gut analysis that you are jealous has some merit. I believe that some people are so outside our little worlds that we make the choice to barricade ourselves from them with a wall of dislike or hate. Now, notice I didn’t say we are necessarily jealous of them; although that might be the case if we think of that other person as better than us. We can also, arbitrarily, consider them worse than us. It doesn’t really matter; when we decide to like/love or dislike/hate a person we are making a personal choice.


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