From the first time she spoke, I loathed her. It wasn’t what she said, but the way she said it, the nervousness in her voice making everything come out in a tremulous laugh. It seemed impossible for her to answer a question without sounding like a quivering hyena. Slowly this annoyance grew to my first all-out hatred. All she had to do was open her mouth, and it would pour out of me in noxious waves, tainting whatever she said. These days, it seems like hatred is all around us. People judge others on things that don’t fully represent them, from anything as complex as the color of their skin or a difference in religion to something more simple like the way they speak. I was once one of these people. I thought that love came easily and that hatred was an extreme, but slowly I grew to learn that it was hatred that came easily, but love, that was hard. To look at a person and see past our annoyances and prejudices to what their full character is, to learn to love them, that’s the challenge.
When I was in sixth grade, my best friend became close to a different girl I heartily disliked. This second dislike, which was for similar, unkind reasons, coupled with the sense that I felt like I was losing my best friend, led me to another hatred, just as fierce as the first. Yet, when seventh grade rolled around, and we were put in the same French class, I finally got to know her, and as the year went by, a friendship blossomed between the two of us. By the end of eighth grade, it seemed hard to believe that I had ever disliked her. To this day, we are still close friends.
Looking back, it strikes me as incredibly sad that I had spent a year bitterly hating someone whom I have grown to love. I had wasted valuable time and energy on a passion that took me farther and farther from discovering our friendship. It was easy, oh so easy, to see her faults and overlook her virtues, so easy to form an opinion about her without ever getting to know her. It was easy to let the hatred blind me, to allow it to blanket all that was good. Hatred, after all, seems to reside in all of us. It does not need to be taught but comes naturally. It has become clearer and clearer to me, though, that one has to learn to love, to look for the hidden qualities in each person that reveals the fullness of their character. In To Kill A Mockingbird, a surprised Scout Finch tells her father, “Atticus, he was real nice,” and her wise father responds, “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.” And this I believe. I believe that one should never allow oneself to hate without first trying to love. I look back on my first hate, when I heard the voice instead of seeing the person, and realize that it was I who had the problem.
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