Who’s That Misanthrope?

Merriam Webster defines misanthrope as “a person who hates or distrusts humankind.” [2]

This trusted etymological repository further explains that “Misanthrope comes from the Greek misanthrōpos “hating humankind” and was very likely popularized by the French playwright Moliere’s Le Misanthrope, which depicts a bitter critic of society who chooses exile over contact with other people…It is one of several English words beginning with mis- (from Greek misein “to hate”) naming persons who despise something or someone.” [2]

All of the above brings me to the point of this writing exercise: I believe I am a misanthrope.

The criteria upon which I base my self-assessment is the fact that synonyms for misanthrope include cynic, naysayer, and pessimist. I have been all of these things—to varying degrees—for all of my life. I would also classify myself as jaded. I often wonder if I am too young to be as cynical and jaded as I am, but like clay, the external pressures exerted upon me mold me.

That being said, I don’t claim to abdicate responsibility for shaping my own personality. I could choose to be an optimist. I could choose to see the good in the world, but that would be in direct opposition of my lived experiences. For me, it would be comparable to choosing to believe in unicorns, despite all of the evidence that demonstrates they are fictional.

I had to endure sexual abuse at the hands of my father. The emotional, mental, and physical ramifications of which are something I struggle against daily. I have written at length about it many times—both on this blog and in journals.

Having endured this, I have learned that family, including one’s own parents, are not to be trusted. Safety in one’s home environment is not guaranteed, and children are at the mercy of the adults around them.

For that reason, I hate family. However, it would be more accurate to say that I hate the way the idea of family and the institution of family has been exalted to the point that it is seen as some sort of sacred bond that should never be broken.

I resent that.

I resent the way that society and culture places so much emphasis on family and togetherness often to the detriment of abuse survivors. Certain groups of people claim that just because someone is family, all of their transgressions should be forgiven. Up to and including rape, incest, abuse, and emotional manipulation.

DNA is not some magical force that elevates even the vilest of people to sainthood. Cutting off family members who have wronged you is seen as extreme or uncharitable, even when the damage inflicted upon the injured party is explained in graphic detail.

It’s infuriating.

As I write this, it is 9:53 PM on a cold November night and I have just returned home from a mandatory work event.

For anyone reading this outside of the year 2020, the world is currently in the midst of a global COVID-19 pandemic. As such, mass gatherings are verboten, but people in power use their influence to subvert the health, safety, and common sense guidelines put forth by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

And so I hate these self-centered leaders who put us at risk as well.

US COVID-19 Case Rate Reported to the CDC in the Last 7 Days, by State/Territory (cases per 100K)

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

My life and my mother’s life has been put in danger because of an egomaniacal tyrant who cares more about being seen as powerful than they care about keeping people alive.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this disgusts me.

Yet again, I find this infuriating.

Logistically and financially it would be difficult to issue a stringent stay at home order in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus in the United States. The best way to implement this and have a large percentage of people adhere to the restrictions would be to pay citizens what they would end up losing in wages for the period they are out of work.

I don’t know how this would be implemented and truthfully, it’s not my job to know.

The people who do know can barely come to a consensus on sending out another paltry stimulus check.

I hate the lack of leadership and the indecisiveness and the inaction that has led to the loss of countless lives.

Not only do I find this situation exasperating, I also find it appalling.

Going back to the definition of misanthrope, which rests on a person’s hatred or distrust, I have to say that my hatred is fueled by distrust.

How could I ever trust that strangers—employers, coworkers, the government—has my best interests at heart when I couldn’t even trust my own parents to keep me safe and not actively do harm to me? No one is safe.

Beneath this hatred lies fear.

I fear for my safety everywhere in every situation in every environment. This was true before the pandemic. I have always felt that danger lurks around the corner at all times.

Living with this level of fear is debilitating. So to give myself the illusion of strength, I have galvanized this fear into hatred and I wield it as a weapon to protect myself. Deep down, I know it’s no more effective against danger than a child’s cardboard sword.

To survive, I carry this hatred with me for protection from the onslaught of overwhelming situations. Without it, I don’t know if I could withstand all of the cruelty and horrors that plague the world.

So I’m a misanthrope. But only because there isn’t a word to categorize a person who wakes up every day in anguish because of trauma and is filled with terror of the evils of the world and is struggling to persevere through crushing depression and immobilizing anxiety.

I don’t know a word for that, so misanthrope will have to do.

I have to survive in this world, and so far, this has been the only option that has worked.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). CDC COVID Data Tracker. Retrieved November 20, 2020, from https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Misanthrope. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misanthrope

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