In my younger, more conflicted days when I couldn’t decide whether I was a hippie or a punk (I am neither), I wrote a poem/song called “I Hate Hate” in which I addressed a hateful person directly. In this poem I lamented that “It’s a catch-22 that while I’m busy hating you, I have to hate myself” – a horrible state to be in, as you can probably imagine.
Thankfully I have come to discover a much easier, less treacherous route to take. Were people like Gandhi, and Jesus correct? Can you return hate with love? Can you do so without encouraging further hateful activity? Is this even a valid question? In the Mahabharata the Kurus were given many chances by the Pandavas, and the Kurus repeated their evil, adharmic ways until war was inevitable. But I think whether my hypothetical hateful person is encouraged to continue in the same way after encountering love is not up to me. I think it is completely up to that person. I am not in control of their reactions to outside circumstances. I can only lead by example.
The only way one can truly love others is if he loves himself, so it is said. But how can you love yourself if you see yourself returning hate from others with hate? It’s that chicken/egg thing again!
Certainly before we can love we have to take care of certain aspects of our Great Within that we may not enjoy facing. But we have to do it. And I suppose that is a form of self-love. It also requires just about as much ego-deflation as it does to return hate with love.