Don’t Do Anything that you Hate

I’ve spent some time thinking about this particular axiom, because it really gave me a hard time. At some point in our lives, we will all be called on to do things we really don’t want to do; such is the nature of life. Therefore, how can we avoid doing things that we hate, when inevitably we will have to do them to survive?

Except there is a difference between doing a task that we find odious or distasteful, and one that we truly hate. A task we find distasteful is one that we do not enjoy doing; we might even avoid doing it, perhaps to our own detriment. We find it boring, or hard, or counterproductive. Most office workers can come up with at least a handful of tasks that fall into this category, let alone retail workers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, sewer company drivers. My father falls into that last category, and he’s been covered in some things I don’t even want to spend time thinking about; but despite that, he doesn’t hate it, even though he’s not particularly fond of it.

Hating a task goes several steps further. When you hate a task, it not only has little or no productive quality, it also makes you hate yourself for doing it. These are tasks that are truly awful to undertake, and for each of us, it’s different. For example, a person that feels awful for taking the life of an animal would not make a very good hunter; nor would it be a great quality in a vet. If you hate taking the life of an animal, a hunter cannot complete their job, because they use hunting and killing as a means to feed themselves and their family. Over the years, my family has used hunting, either deer for meat, or coyotes for bounties, to supplement our income when we were very poor. In fact, the population of coyotes and coydogs, a hybrid animal that combines the cunning and tactics of a coyote with the sheer lack of fear of humans common in dogs, was so high that there was a $25 per animal bounty on them. My father and his friend would go night hunting and come back with the money for that week’s groceries after a weekend. My father doesn’t hate taking the life of an animal, though he by no means revels in it; thus he was able to feed our family by an alternative means.

To someone that hates hunting, truly hates hunting, they won’t even hunt to preserve their own life. A good example of this may be a vegan, who is sworn only to eat plant matter, may find themselves lost in the woods. Under these circumstances, they would be forced to eat whatever it is they can find for sustenance. In many cases, lacking the skills to hunt as it is not a method by which they feed themselves, they would resort to finding tree nuts or other natural plants to eat. Despite that, they are surrounded by food in the form of edible insects, an easy form of protein to acquire when you are lost in the woods, much as the soldiers that attend SERE School, the Army’s Search, Evasion, Resistance, Escape training center, learn early in their time there. With some rudimentary tools, they could easily make a weapon, giving them the means to hunt small game, though it may take them more time to build that skillset than it does for them to be rescued. A spear is an easy thing to make if you have a knife, and even lacking that a sharp rock will do the work if you have the patience. Not that all vegans are opposed to killing animals when necessary; after all, a farmer, even a vegetable farmer, may have to kill a woodchuck or prairie dog that is eating her vegetable garden. Their very survival depends on having a good harvest, and that harvest will not be plentiful if all of the vegetables are half eaten.

I myself was moved on this particular issue last year. As a Vermonter that grew up in a hunting family, I never really took issue with hunting; I enjoyed the rewards of a successful hunt when family or friends did so, and tried my own hand at it, though I was never patient enough for it as a child. However, I have never held any particular animosity toward varmint animals such as woodchucks or squirrels, and thus refused to take a shot at them when they crossed my path and I had access to a firearm. I felt killing them was utterly unnecessary, and therefore hated the idea of picking them off for no reason, particularly the kits. I would feel awful about myself for killing an animal that was causing me no harm, and only asked for a bit of space under a shed to live.

This changed however, when the garden started to grow. As the vegetables started to grow up, we found the fruits of our garden were being eaten. The eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes were all being eaten right on the vine. Even my jalapeño plant, which I had carefully cultivated peppers on with the intention of making poppers, was not immune despite the capsaicin in the peppers that were probably a rude awakening for what was eating it. Unfortunately it appeared to enjoy the natural chemical irritant, much as I do when I eat them, because by the end of the first week that we had discovered our veggies were being poached, the animal made off with the whole plant. Stem and all. From then on, I understood what a menace woodchucks were and was ready to do my duty to protect our garden, no longer hating the task, though I was still not enthusiastic about it.

Avoiding the things you hate means avoiding the things that make you hate yourself for doing them. By doing the distasteful things you have to do, you accept responsibility for your life and take care of what is important. By doing things you hate, you diminish your life, and feel awful for having even made an attempt, let alone a successful attempt, at the task. When doing a task, ask yourself: do I find this distasteful, or do I truly hate it? If the answer is the latter, do whatever you can to stop doing it as quickly as possible.

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