I’m sure that many people are aware of the television programme, Room 101, or at least the concept of it. Celebrities are given the opportunity to banish their top dislikes into a mythical room, from where they will never be released back into the world again. The choices are wide ranging, and often accompanied by a comical anecdote making the case against the offending item, person or trait, etc..
Whilst I was in the early stages of formation for the diaconate, I was interviewed about the process and about who I was. To try and paint a picture of my likes and dislikes I was asked to name five things that I would like to consign to the mythical Room 101. I can’t remember all of the answers, but I know my list probably included:
Professional Sports people who spit onto the pitch (often seen on television).
Bullying of any sort.
Miles and miles of traffic cones in roadworks and nobody actually working!
What would your five choices be?
So what made my think of this? Over the past few weeks I’ve heard the expression, “I hate….” or “The thing I hate is…..” and “ If there’s one thing I hate, it’s……” The endings of the sentences have ranged from cold tea, cancelled trains, rain, family members, the Government and going to work. Now this is such an extreme range that it made me think about the word ‘hate.’
For such a small word, it certainly conveys a lot of emotion and feeling. It is also perhaps one of the words that is used inappropriately a lot of the time. It also suggests to me that we are also both very angry and unforgiving about the world around us, especially the people that we share it with.
To say that we hate someone because of the colour of their skin, their gender, their ethnic, cultural or religious background, their political beliefs or any other differences seems to be in direct conflict with what we profess to be our belief and life in Christ.
Hatred, of course, is not a new phenomenon for our age, it has been around for as long as history records, and we see the many destructive influences of hate throughout the scriptures. Jesus himself tells us that as a result of following His teachings, and the path to God the Father through Him, we ourselves might even have to endure hatred for the sake of His name.
We may have to endure it, but that doesn’t make it right, and it certainly doesn’t suggest that we should hate others when they are different from us. Hatred causes division, hatred causes conflict, hatred causes hurt and hatred breaks our world. The way of Peace, the way of Christ, is the opposite.
In Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter “FRATELLI TUTTI” (ON THE FRATERNITY AND SOCIAL FRIENDSHIP), it is made quite clear that working towards one world, a world free of Hate is the ideal that we should be pursuing.
The Holy Father writes:
“Authentic social dialogue involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view and to admit that it may include legitimate convictions and concerns.” (No.203)
“Each of us can learn something from others. No one is useless and no one is expendable.” (No. 215)
“One fundamental human right must not be forgotten in the journey towards fraternity and peace. It is religious freedom for believers of all religions.” (No. 279)
These are of course only a very few sentences from the encyclical, and it really needs to be read in full.
As we reflect this week, perhaps we should consider how we could eliminate hate from our own vocabulary and world. To me, perhaps the only legitimate place for the word hate, is in the eternal debate about marmite!
Deacon Ian Black