Ok, so it’s not Valentine’s Day, but the topic is love anyway.

I’ve been thinking about what an angry world we live today. Maybe it was ever thus, and I just didn’t notice before.

The term “hater” has recently emerged in popular social speak. According to the Internet’s Urban Dictionary, it’s a “person that develops a strong dislike for another, solely basing their own opinion on personal judgment rather than objective merit. The formation of a hater's contempt commonly arises from jealously and/or resentment. Individuals that make fun of, or 'hate', others for justified reasons cannot be legitimately classified as 'haters'. Additionally, the word 'hater' is frequently overused, mainly by members of the rap and hip-hop communities.”

I think the term is over-used by all sorts of people who use it to label anyone with a different viewpoint from their own.

Whether it’s political (I don’t agree with amnesty for illegals); legal (child rapists should get the death penalty); social (baggy pants disgust me) religious (eternal life through Jesus Christ) or economic (those who work hard for a living shouldn’t have to support those who don’t), the screwed-up fact remains that if Joe is offended by or disagrees with John’s stated belief or opinion, then John is a “hater.” And Joe is politically correct in pointing out John’s hateful attitude.

If I profoundly disagree that love is nothing “but a second hand emotion,” does my opinion make me a hater of Tina Turner? I hope not as she’s a gifted performer, and “Proud Mary” is one of my favorite songs.

Assuming that all this anger and “hater” name-calling is a societal problem, I see only one solution. Love. Even if we have to love the unlovable.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Romans, reminds them that God calls us His people and says He will call us “beloved” even though we are not lovable. If you’ve ever read the story of Hosea and Gomer in the Bible, you know that poor old Hosea married an awful woman named Gomer.

She was unfaithful, selfish, and vicious. I can just imagine that when God told Hosea to keep on loving her, he must have said something like, “But, Lord, she’s such a skank!”  God told the disgruntled husband, “Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who’s in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife. Love her the way I, God, love the Israelite people, even as they flirt and party with every god that strikes their fancy.” (Message Bible)

Now, that’s asking a lot! What man or woman could still love a totally unlovable spouse like that?

It’s so much easier to love those who behave as we think they should. Polite, appreciative, kind-hearted, pleasant folks are worthy of our love. Maybe because we can feel their affection in return.  

I admit it. I can’t tolerate rude people.  Especially people who have no manners. Manipulators and users. People who fly into rages over petty situations. I think of them as “Porcupine people.” And I’ll go out of my way to avoid them.   

But then the thought occurs to me: WHY do some people act so unlovable? Perhaps the answer is fear. Someone or something has hurt them.

In the past, they have been ignored or abused in some way, and their response is to keep people from hurting them again by being as obnoxious as possible. Our anger, rejection, avoidance, and judgment of them only make them more unbearable. In some weird way, being hateful back to them provides them some kind of desired “payoff.”

Sometimes, the best revenge on an enemy is to love him because it confuses the heck out of him. Careful, though, your enemy may just become a friend of your heart even if he’s still spitting in your face.

J. R, Miller, a popular Christian author of a hundred years ago, wrote “If we knew the story of men's lives, the hidden burdens they are often carrying for others, the unhealed wound in their heart — we would have most gentle patience with them. Life is hard for most people, certainly hard enough without our adding to its burdens — by our criticisms, our jeering and contempt, and our lack of love.”

This has been another one of my strange columns.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.