I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, a long-time democrat bastion. My neighborhood is fairly diverse, and mostly liberal. Yet as a registered Independent, broad categories such as ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ do not interest me. I find trends, or patterns of human action, far more interesting. One particular trend has caught fire in my community.
Now I like this trend very much for several reasons; for one, it is an expression of freedom of speech and political activism — both of which are crucial elements of any free society. My sister and I were driving recently through our fairly residential neighborhood, when I first spotted one of the popular signs. It depicted an American flag in the shape of a heart, declaring a single message in six languages: “Hate Has No Home Here”.
The signs were apparently intended to “denounce hateful incidents in a ‘more public way’” — incidents such as racist speech and graffiti have spread like wildfire across Montgomery County. Yet my philosophy major’s mind could not help but question the sign’s message. Of course I am just as opposed to ‘hate crimes’ — crimes motivated by racism or sexism — as the next woman. But shocking though it may seem, I am by no means opposed to hate, per se.
I am going to make a massive judgement about my reader: you hate something — perhaps even hate itself. Now most people ought to recognize the fallacy of ‘hating hate’; it simply cannot be done.
In Perelandra, the second book in his Space Trilogy, C.S. Lewis discusses hatred as it is experienced in his main character, Ransom. Ransom has journeyed to the surreal planet of Perelandra, where he is attempting to defend himself against the “Un-man” — a possessed scientist who used to be called Weston. Weston’s openness to selfishness and evil has utterly corrupted him, and he thus seeks to destroy Ransom and the free life of Perelandra.
Lewis writes: “Then an experience that perhaps no good man can ever have in our world came over [Ransom] — a torrent of perfectly lawful hatred. The energy of hating, never before felt without some guilt, without some dim knowledge that he was failing fully to distinguish the sinner from the sin, rose into his arms and legs till he felt that they were pillars of burning blood.
“What was before him appeared no longer a creature of corrupted will,” Lewis writes of the Un-man. “It was corruption itself to which will was attached only as an instrument. Ages ago it had been a Person: but the ruins of personality now survived in it only as weapons at the disposal of a furious self-exiled negation.”
“Corruption, itself” has become the object of Ransom’s hatred. I think corruption, itself, ought to become the proper object of our hatred, as well. We can hate evil — we must hate it, if we are to work at eradicating it. I hate cancer, tsunamis, war, torture, environmental irresponsibility, abortion, and human trafficking. If hate has no place in your home, I would ask what, exactly, you are seeking to change with your sign. A world in which we hate nothing is filled with one of two things — very lazy people or a complete lack of evil.
The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and a stroll through center-city Philadelphia prove evil’s existence to me, at least. For evil, both natural and moral, certainly exists, and if we do not hate it, we — signs, bumper-stickers, and all — will be entirely ineffective.
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