Hercules, travelling along in between his famous trials, came across a foul-looking creature the size of a small rat, blocking his path, snapping and spitting at all who passed by. The demigod raised his club and gave the creature a sharp crack upon its ugly, shriveled head. Instead of falling injured, the creature spat flame, shaking with rage and swelling up to the size of a large dog.
Undaunted, the famous hero swung his club again, only to find himself facing a monster twice his size, a giant hulk of twisted flesh and bone, spitting bile and making the surrounding countryside tremble with its deafening roars.
He raised his club again, preparing for an epic battle, when his sister Athena appeared at his side. “Lower your club, brother,” she told him gently.
Hercules lowered his weapon, watching in amazement as the creature grew smaller again.
“What is it?” he asked, his brow wrinkling.
The Goddess of Wisdom smiled gently. “It is Spite; the more you battle with it, the larger and stronger it grows. If we leave it behind, it will no longer trouble us.”
Spite is often used in abusive groups and relationships – and can even become their identifying feature. Inciting rage by provoking indignation at some perceived wrong can countermand all our critical thinking, leading us to act without engaging our intelligence.
Rage, however, is not limited to predatory people and groups: those of us who work to expose and end the systematic human rights violations caused by undue influence are often indignant – and rightly so – at the abuses we see around us. Too often, what we see is maddening, the stories we hear terrifying. Our indignation can even become a defining point when we ask ourselves why we have chosen this path.
Historically, righteous indignation has provided valuable fire to act against such injustices as slavery, intolerance, poverty, sexism and war. However, we must remember, while we are travelling along upon our Herculean task, not to allow our indignation to become poisoned by Spite, and let our anger turn us against each other, or, worse, those who need our help the most, the people still caught in the grasp of a high-control group or relationship.
While it is important to stand against predation and undue influence wherever we find it, we must not descend into attacking people, instead of opposing abuse. It is not only possible, but necessary, to expose and work to end injustice, without giving in to Spite, as those who invoke it or act on it rarely have anyone’s best interests in mind. If we fight just to fight, then no one can ever truly win.
What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Have you read Spike’s dystopian novel?Do you have a story about Spite that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!