Words are powerful things. They affect how you think. Even in tiny ways, in the days’ outlook and approach.
‘Love’ is one I’m always careful with. This is probably due to the Anne of Green Gables books, where I think I remember a redoubtable old woman disapproving of the usage of the day: ‘love’ being equally applied to turnips (possibly) or Jesus. Whether this is a reliable memory or not, I’m not sure – but anyway, I have listened to that old woman and don’t apply ‘love’ to turnips, carrots or any other root vegetable. It’s an odd one though, it covers so many different areas. C.S. Lewis wrote a (slightly disappointing) book on it; it’s been the subject of so much poetry, prose, and song; I shan’t presume. It does generally make me more cheerful when I use it, though.
Then I started wondering about ‘hate’. It goes along with ‘evil’ in my head. I’m very, very careful about evil. That’s a difficult subject, and I’m not going to refer to it unless I have something to say or learn. ‘Bad’, ‘wicked’, even those are dodgy. But ‘evil’? No, not at all. But what about ‘hate’? I’d never use it of a person, not anyone specific. But it has crossed the lips. I’m pretty sure I’ve said I hate tins of tomatoes that aren’t chopped. (I do. What’s the point?) I can get quite vehement about small dogs that look like getting under the bike wheels when I’m cycling. (Usually I like dogs very much.) I definitely hate cars that put me in danger on the bike. (Road rage is something I learned when cycling.) I positively hate laundry that has mounted up too far and needs doing now. (Why so much? Why so continually?) I am quite certain I hate mess in general, especially when I have to clear it up. (I won’t even start on that.)
But do I really hate them? Or, what do I really hate about those things? Isn’t it a bit irrational really? Does it matter anyway?
One thing I used to hate was the alarm clock, and wasn’t that a bad start to the day? I got over it by thanking it nicely every morning (aloud – seriously). Oddly, I’m actually quite fond of it nowadays. So it wasn’t the sound I hated. Getting up? But I like being up. Not enough sleep? Probably, but years of children have taught me that doesn’t have to be a problem. So what? I think, tell the truth, I just hated being bossed around, even by an inanimate object I’d programmed myself. I mean, I hadn’t decided to wake up yet, had I?
Hating tins of tomatoes? Ludicrous. Maybe I hate chopping them. No, don’t mind that. Being squirted with juice? Not ideal, but if it happened to someone else I’d chuckle. Oh, I know. I hate being made to chop them. Why should I? Small dogs. Just as charming as large ones, often. But they make me brake, swerve, fear for their tiny lives, think I’m about to fall off… Cars in bike lanes? Well, now, that’s quite ok. They are dangerous and illegal, and clearly hateable. Oh, but it’s not cars themselves I hate. My car is rather nice. It’s cars that act with mean intent. Don’t be silly, cars can’t have intent. They’re objects. They don’t drive themselves. In fact, I could have done the same, when driving, to another cyclist. Perhaps that car that nearly hit me was driven by a mother with two arguing boys in the back and too much on her mind and she just made a mistake…So, ok, she’s illegal and dangerous, but I don’t think I want to hate her, even if she made me scared. Oh. Laundry, well, that’s obvious. It makes me work. But it also makes my family feel clean and cared-for. And it gives me a peaceful time to think about hatred, and other enlightening things. Not really reasonable to hate it, then.
It looks like I don’t like things that make me do things. It rather looks like I’m a bit stubborn, actually. It might even look like I don’t like being told what to do, or would rather get cross than make myself be sensible, reasonable and cheerful. And I wonder how much more bad-tempered the accumulation of tiny ‘hates’ makes me each day? How much further away from realising a day where I’ve expressed just a bit of God’s love to my family and friends? Hmm…
I’m still going to be careful about ‘evil’ and accurate about ‘love’. But I think I might be more chary about ‘hate’ now, too. Maybe some proper reading about those words might help. Even asking someone who’s already done the thinking. They might make me see straighter. Maybe I’ll get off the bike and stroke the next dog. And in the meantime, better make myself fold some laundry. I don’t mind laundry, after all. Not much, anyway.