From time to time, someone will walk up, call up or email to say something like “why do you have a grudge against (insert name here).”

Grudges? We don’t need no stinkin’ grudges. Grudges waste time, energy and emotional reserves.

Angela Pirisi writes in Psychology Today:

Still holding grudges? Check your pulse: research suggests that harboring feelings of betrayal may be linked to high blood pressure which can ultimately lead to stroke, kidney or heart failure, or even death.

The same goes for hate. Don’t have time to hate. Life if too short to waste time on hating anyone or anything.

In his book, The Psychology of Hate, Dr. Robert J. Sternberg writes:

Hate is among the most powerful of human emotions—it has caused great sorrow and suffering—and yet it has been understudied by psychologists.

After the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis in World War II, the expression “Never Again” became a familiar refrain. Yet, during the last half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the current decade, society has witnessed staggering numbers of brutal and hateful acts.

News sources are filled with reports of Palestinians attacking Jews and Jewish settlers attacking Palestinians, white supremacist groups murdering members of minority groups, religious zealots killing doctors who perform abortions, teenagers violently clashing with their classmates, genocide in Rwanda and mass killing in Bosnia, and the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. These are not random or sudden bursts of irrationality, but rather, carefully planned and orchestrated acts of violence and killing. Underlying these events is a widespread and hazardous human emotion: hate.

Hate destroys a civilized society. Hate replaces reason with rage.

Extremist groups thrive on hate. They exploit it along with fear, ignorance and intolerance to serve their own hate-driven agendas. Sadly, we’ve seen hate all too often in our backyard, like the Ku Klux Klan that still operates near us or the white supremacists in our midst or the political extremists who masquerade as grassroots organizations.

Too often, these groups promote anger to justify their hatred. They cloak themselves in American flags to justify intolerance. They invoke Christianity to rationalize behavior that is anything but Christian.

I saw hate first hand as a young boy in Farmville when a racist school board and board of supervisors closed the public schools rather than integrate.

It would be easy to hate such people but I cannot.  It would be easy to hold grudges against those who wish to destroy society by subverting the political process but doing so serves no purpose.

We must, instead, fight ignorance with education, confront fear with resolve and avoid hate with compassion.

If we are at peace with ourselves, no one can use use our emotions against us.

Some years ago — as I struggled to battle alcoholism and the anger management issues that come with the disease — I came across this quote from an unknown author:

Life is too short. Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness. Laugh when you can, apologize when you should and let go of what you  can’t change. Love deeply and forgive quickly. Take chances. Give everything and have no regrets. Life is too short to be unhappy. You have to take the good with the bad. Smile when you should, love what you have and always remember what you had. Always forgive but never forget. Learn from your mistakes but never regret. People change and things go wrong. But, always remember, life goes on.

Let others hate. Let them hold grudges.

We have better uses for our time and our lives.

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