The right, the wrong, and the rhetoric therein
Angela Chininin Buele
In order to make sure we are all on the same page, I would like to include the actual and complete quote by Nelson Mandela below:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
I believe it is quite unfortunate that his carefully developed statement has become something of a bullet point zinger, but what is more disappointing is that you can actually uncover truth working from the structure of the one liner where none is to be found from the original quote. What I mean to say is that from “Love is natural; Hate is learned” you can see the perfect gift of Love (life) that God gave man and the hate (sin) with which man repaid him, having been taught by God’s Enemy, Satan. You might also say that babies first show only delight in the connection they share with other people, but as physical strength and capacity for strategic thought develop, more and more conflict (sin) enters into their relationships. Up to this point of the common abridged version of the quote, it has merit.
The complete original quote, however, misrepresents both our ultimate character as self-interested beings and the hope for remedy. Our poisoning has not come from without but from within, and the antidote is not a bypass but complete transplant. And for that you need a Surgeon.
Having addressed the right and the wrong of this mantra’s application, what of the rhetoric? That is what is shrouded by the very words “love” and “hate.” The oversimplification of these terms leaves no shortage of broken hearts in its wake. Truth be told, love is not about primarily about affirmation, but about delight, protection and edification. And hate isn’t primarily about disdain, but apathy, autonomy, and neglect. Does that better paint the broad strokes of beauty and terror?
Key Question: Do you more often use the self-satisfying meaning or the soul-satisfying meaning of the terms “love” and “hate”?
Unshakable Truth: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge; but whoever hates reproof is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1
One who has caused an accident that leaves them trapped in a burning vehicle might not appreciate the experience of having their car ripped apart by the Jaws of Life, but the gratitude for another’s sacrifice to perform the rescue is not soon forgotten. Those working to rescue must not be slandered as hateful for destroying the victim’s vehicle. They should instead be seen as loving for their compassion for the person’s very life.
The Real Choice: Will we be moved to give full and accurate weight to the terms “love” and “hate,” or will we use them as tag lines for our own purposes?