My War on the H Word


hateIt was during class that a student said it: “Professor, you hate a lot of stuff.”

I was stunned, but even as I mentally organized my defense I knew why he’d said it. At least three times that lesson I had claimed to hate things: mornings, lateness, and mobile phones.

I stowed my defense.

I have never considered myself a hater, and that’s because I’m not a hater. I don’t genuinely hate a lot of things. I have never hated anyone based on their religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. And while there are political and social ideologies I disagree with, I don’t hate anyone simply because they think differently from me.

I might roll my eyes at the Facebook posts of friends who are politically conservative, pro-gun, or vegan, but I don’t hate them. I don’t like guns, but I have many wonderful friends who do. And vegans, well, I guess the less meat they eat, they more there is for me.

I don’t even hate spiders.

Still, this seed sprouted throughout the day and so I came up with an experiment. I decided to keep tally of my “hates” for a week. Anytime the word “hate” came out of my mouth I would note it down. Even if I managed to stifle it, I’d note it down.

I quit after two days.

In the first two days of this experiment I had said “hate” 22 times. And I wasn’t using “hate” to convey my disdain towards major crimes against humanity such as child abuse, racism, or the Dallas Cowboys. No, I hated traffic, late students, my neighbor’s dog, the hill I live atop, Sunday afternoons, Monday mornings, Saturdays during which I have to work, itchy skin, cleaning my sink, the dative case in Czech, waiters, warm beer, and nasal hair.

In other words: my life. I hated my life. I hated everything in my life that didn’t make me absolutely ecstatic. From this logic, I supposed I would enjoy my life if it only consisted of Friday nights, hotdogs, ginger snaps, and oral sex.

This was unacceptable, something had to be done. And so I went to war with the H word by eliminating it from my lexicon. The only rule was that I could not say the word “hate.”

If this were a Christmas movie this is where the epiphany would enter. The main character would realize that he loved everything and rescue a sled of toys from obliteration high above Whoville. If this were a movie he would suddenly know that sound of one hand clapping or find a renewed zest and love for all things, good and bad.

I can’t offer that, this is real life after all. It turns out that “hate” was my go-to verb, my kneejerk reaction to anything which displeased me. Therefore, the last week has been a tongue chomping, teeth-gritting affair. But though I grumble and grit, I haven’t used the word “hate” in a week.

So in a small way, I guess I’m slowly winning my war on the H word. And I bet it hates that.

Any words you’d like to eliminate from your lexicon?

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