Hate, ridicule, sarcasm, jealousy, belittling humor, and bullying are despicable, centuries-old characteristics of human behavior. Hate is the fountain from which the others flow; hate seems to be an indelible part of our nature. The Germans even have a word for wallowing in hate and enjoying the misfortunes of others—schadenfreude.
In 1826 American writer William Hazlitt wrote The Pleasure of Hating. He asserts:
“The pleasure of hating, like a poisonous mineral, eats into the heart of religion, and turns it to rankling spleen and bigotry; it makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands: it leaves to virtue nothing but the spirit of censoriousness, and a narrow, jealous, inquisitorial watchfulness over the actions and motives of others.”
Hazlitt’s words struck me deeply following the death of a close friend’s daughter. In high school, that daughter was subjected to intense ridicule because of her appearance and because she was Jewish. Her classmates teased her, mocked her and gave her a name—The Frog.
A couple of years before her recent death at age 69, she asked her only grandchild to call her Nana Frog. A talented and tormented woman, she fought many demons and never recovered from the bullying and ridicule she endured.
Her family gave me a copy of her poetry. In it I found:
Life As A Frog
Sometimes I dream
Of being a frog –
A Jewish frog in search
Of kosher bugs.
Wouldn’t call me names
Or tell me that
I killed their god.
Even if I was
A different shade of green
I would be
Rest in peace Nana frog. Frogs are beautiful; they are one of god’s wondrous creatures.
Submitted by David Cariens, Kilmarnock