Buddhism talks about the three poisons: desire, hatred, and ignorance.   Are these religious concepts we must simply believe in, or are they real phenomena that we can see in the world?   I think the answer is that they are real phenomena, but there's a fair amount of confusion about them.   I am going to talk a bit about hatred.

First, "hatred" is actually a bad translation—a better word is aversion. What we mean colloquially by "hatred" is a strong form of aversion directed at a person or group. A Nazi might hate a group of people, "the other."   But we might also hate something bad that is happening in the world.   There's no shortage of things to choose from.

When you feel aversion to something bad that is happening in the world, this is just as much of a problem for you as when you feel aversion toward a certain group of people. Non-acceptance creates suffering. It is not necessary for you to feel suffering when confronted with the evils of the world—it does nobody any good.

When something is obviously wrong, and something needs to be done about it, and you can do it, then you do it. When something is wrong and you can't do anything about it, there is absolutely no value in being upset about it—it causes you suffering and benefits no-one, including you. All the suffering can do that simple knowledge that there is a problem won't do is trigger unskillful action.

Sometimes people say "my anger is what motivates me to act." This might be true—anger can be a motivating factor. The problem is that anger leads to desperate behavior, and we see it all the time on Twitter, for example: instead of taking skillful action to address the problems that we see, we just yell at each other about them. It feels like "taking action," but really it's causing harm.

If you see a problem and don't find yourself taking action, one of a few things is probably true:

  1. There is nothing you can do
  2. You know what to do, but don't want to do it
  3. You don't know what to do, and are thinking about it (this is actually a constructive action, but we often don't give ourselves credit for it)
  4. There's something you could do, but it wouldn't help, and in your calm and accepting state of mind, you can see this; if you got angry, you might do it anyway.

If you know what to do, but don't want to do it, that's either because you don't actually have the capacity to do it (there are often actions we could take, but if we took them we'd be giving up doing something more important). Or it's because you have aversion to doing it. There's that aversion again. If you have aversion to doing it, the cure is to address the aversion, not to create a negative mental state so as to overcome the aversion. That will work, but at a very high cost.