Henry Norman? A. P. Buchman? George Washington Carver? Alvin D. Smith? Louis N. Whealton? Frederick C. Walcott? Peter Witt? Martin Luther King Jr.? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Loathing and hostility are intense emotions which are difficult to control. Here is an applicable adage:
Hatred destroys the hater.
Would you please explore the provenance of this saying?
Quote Investigator: The 2018 issue of “Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship” includes a supplementary article for the important reference work titled “The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs”. Three variants of this important saying were listed: 1
Hate (Hating, Hatred) destroys the hater.
Tracing this adage is difficult because it can be expressed in many different ways, and its concision evolved over time. A lengthy version appeared in the 1897 book “Real” by Henry Norman, Bold face added to excerpts by QI: 2
Revenge can gratify for a short time only, but it never can satisfy for revenge is an agent of hatred, and the nature of hatred is to first destroy the hated one and then destroy the hater.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
In July 1897 “The Theosophical Forum” printed a philosophical question together with an answer: 3
I find myself unconsciously feeling a dislike to some persons. How can I eradicate this feeling from my mind?
A. P. Buchman provided the answer. He advocated finding something good or loveable in disliked people to dissipate negative feelings. Buchman also doubted the need to feel hate:
But why hate anyway? Hate is a disintegrating force, it is a poison and destroys the hater, and although the one hated may feel uneasy or uncomfortable yet the action is mainly expended on the one who does the hating.
Alvin D. Smith attended the Bible Classes conducted by prominent scientist and educator George Washington Carver during the years 1915 to 1919. Smith often took notes, and many years later in 1954 he published “George Washington Carver: Man of God” which included material from Carver’s lectures such as the following: 4
“Fear of something is at the root of hate for others and hate within will ultimately destroy the hater. Keep your thoughts free from hate, and you need have no fear from those who hate you,” said he.
In 1916 “The Daily Telegram” of Long Beach, California reported on a speech delivered at the local Women’s City Club by former Mayor Louis N. Whealton who employed a concise instance of the saying: 5
For real or imaginary causes, hate and envy spoil much of the beauty of the world and bring to many, to the one who hates more than all,—misery and unhappiness. Hate at last destroys the hater, who becomes ostracized and pitied as one who is suffering with a mania, and, to that degree, insane.
In 1918 “The Hartford Courant” of Connecticut reported on a speech delivered by Frederick C. Walcott who worked to distribute food aid from the U.S. during the World War I period. Walcott later became a Senator. He employed a concise version of the saying: 6
“Let us,” he concluded, “complete the victory by eliminating hatred from our hearts. We must not hate, hatred destroys the hater not the hated. The thing that is facing the countries abroad is famine. Famine leads to anarchy and anarchy to strife, bloodshed and suffering worse even than war itself.”
In 1921 “The Seattle Star” of Washington published a profile of Peter Witt which included the following remark from him: 7
“A man who hates is a fool,” he says. “Hate can’t injure the person hated. But it destroys the hater.”
In 1944 The Hartford Courant” of Connecticut published a book review by Yandry Wilson Vance which included an instance of the saying: 8
If there ever is to be an unanimity among the peoples of mankind, considered as the brotherhood of the human race, it will not be on the basis of hate. For hatred does not unite; it eventually destroys the hater. Precisely that is what is happening in Germany today.
In 1957 civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a sermon titled “Loving Your Enemies” which included the saying: 9
Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.
In conclusion, QI believes that this proverb evolved over time, and the originator should be designated anonymous.
- 2018, Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship, Volume 35, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs: Second Supplement by Charles Clay Doyle and Wolfgang Mieder, Start Page 15, Quote Page 25, Published by The University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont. (Verified on paper) ↩
- 1897, Real by Henry Norman, Quote Page 21 and 22, Jno. F. McCarty & Company, Printers, Lynn, Massachusetts. (Google Books Full View) link ↩
- 1897 July, The Theosophical Forum, Volume 3, Number 3, Questions and Answers: Question 101, Quote Page 36, Published by the Theosophical Society in America, 144 Madison Avenue, New York City. (HathiTrust Full View) link ↩
- 1954, George Washington Carver: Man of God by Alvin D. Smith, Chapter: Race Hate—David and Goliath, Quote Page 43, Exposition Press, New York. (HathiTrust Full View) link ↩
- 1916 May 20, The Daily Telegram, Section: Social and Club Life in Long Beach, Louis N. Whealton, John Francis Neyland, Quote Page 6, Column 5, Long Beach, California. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1918 November 20, The Hartford Courant, French Call New England Fighters “Yankee Devils”, Quote Page 3, Column 2, Hartford, Connecticut. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1921 October 15, The Seattle Star, Witt’s Success Lies in Independence Traction Expert Once Basket Worker, Quote Page 1, Column 7, Seattle, Washington. (GenealogyBank) ↩
- 1944 November 26, The Hartford Courant, Section: The Hartford Courant Magazine, Subsection: Courant Views on Books, Wishing Hitler Were Dead by Y.W.V. (Yandry Wilson Vance, Literary Editor), (Book Review of William Gilmore Beymer’s “12:20 P.M.”), Quote Page 12, Column 1, Hartford, Connecticut. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1998, A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. by Martin Luther King Jr., Edited by Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran, Sermon: Loving Your Enemies, Note: Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama on November 17, 1957, Start Page 41, Quote Page 53, Published by IPM: Intellectual Properties Management Inc. in Association with Warner Books, New York. (Verified with scans) ↩