“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness …” – Martin Luther King
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Arthur Baldwin
To be free, you have to let go of hate.
And I suspect, as the quote from James Arthur Baldwin argues, that letting go of hate does initially open your heart to pain.
Yet, to be free you need to forgive those who have persecuted you. This does mean you need to accept and acknowledge the pain, yet remembering the hurt and accepting the pain is a process and a journey. It is a journey of release; of letting it out and letting it go.
Forgiveness does not meant forgetfulness; it does not mean forgetting the injustice or persecution that you have endured, but it does often mean remembering it so that you don’t re-live it, and remembering it so that you can be more empathetic towards others who may suffer similarly to how you may have suffered.
Such remembering is then a positive memory, a memory that no longer has pain attached to it. This can take considerable time. It doesn’t happen over-night, but is a journey that is best taken in company.
While you still feel pain, you are still suffering injury and therefore you have not fully freed yourself of the past, you are still, to a degree at least, living in it.
When you let those who have hurt you define you (by placing you in this position of pain), you have clearly not achieved liberty.
Hatred and freedom cannot co-exist. Anger and bitterness are the fruit of unforgiveness – if you still feel these powerful emotions, then you are still harbouring some un-forgiveness.
In a world devoid of God there is no justice and hence no true hope for restitution, for fairness and ultimate redemption. When you have a relationship with God and you recognize that He will ultimately bring Justice tempered always with Grace, you can then release your pain to Him, and then truly find freedom.
True freedom though may not be what you think it is. True freedom is the liberty and choice to seek the best for you, for your family; for your community and for your nation & your world. This is also the essence of ‘tikkun olam’ (repairing the world).
The best is a deep and abiding relationship with your Creator. Such a relationship involves loving your heavenly Father with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and this in turn means loving your neighbor as yourself. If you love God you will love His commandments. When you love His commandments, His Torah (divine instructions), you will walk in the Way (Psalms 119).
Be free – let go of hate!