Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hatred Rears It's Ugly Head -part II

The Native American grandfather tells his grandson that there are two wolves inside of him, fighting for control. One wolf is the wolf of love, peace, and kindness. The other wolf is a wolf of greed, hatred, and corruption. The grandson asks, "Which wolf will win?" The grandfather replies "Whichever wolf I feed."
Native American proverb

On occasion, I have been witness to the aftermath of a hate crime. One incident remains indelible in my mind when, some years ago, I worked and lived in the International Student’s House in London, England. A young man named Sean, a caring, thoughtful and generous person, lived in the apartment next door to me. One night, at around 2 a.m., there was a knock at my door. I was startled to hear Sean's voice. I opened the door and  there he stood with blood all over his face and clothing. When he came into my living room he burst into tears and started telling me what had happened. Sean had just left the London Underground train station and was walking home when he was attacked by 6 Skinheads who beat him up. His face and body were bruised and bloody. He said that during the beating they called him derogatory names. It seems that they did it because he is gay. I held him as he wept and we tried to get some understanding of the motive of the bullies. We concluded that it  just boiled down to ‘hate.’

What is hate exactly? The dictionary definition of hate is: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury , extreme dislike or antipathy

Hate Crime: any of various crimes (as assault or defacement of property) when motivated by hostility to the victim as a member of a group (as one based on color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation)

In his book 'The Psychology of Hate'  Robert J Sternberg (American Psychological Association, APA) states "After the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis in World War II, the expression "never again" became a familiar refrain. Yet, during the last half of the 20th century and the beginning of the current decade, society has witnessed staggering numbers of brutal and hateful acts. Our news sources are filled with reports of White supremacist groups murdering members of minority groups, religious zealots killing doctors who perform abortions, teenagers violently clashing with their classmates, the genocides in Rwanda and Sudan, the mass killing in Bosnia, and the 9/11 attacks on the United States. These are not random or sudden bursts of irrationality but, rather, orchestrated acts of violence and killing. Underlying these events is a widespread and haz­ardous human emotion: hate. Hate is among the most powerful of human emotions—it has caused great sorrow and suffering—and yet it has been understudied by psychologists".

" Once one begins to see hate in terms of its functions, one can see hate everywhere. That is not always a comfort. Consider the myriad functions of hate:
  • Hate is a reliable source of attachment; a substitute for love. 
  • Hate gives meaning to life.
  • Nursing one's hatred provides comfort and satisfaction. 
  • Acting out one's hate is a source of pleasure, that of domination and control. 
  • Sadism is the pleasure of hatred. Hatred is a mode of being in the world.
  • Hate binds people in a community with others who hate, a community whose intimacy is intensified by the guilty se­cret that all those who hate share: that there is pleasure in destruction.
If one can bear to know all this, then one shall have learned not only some terrible truths about the world but also something about hate that may from time to time allow one to mitigate its effects. Likely this knowledge will not lessen the sheer amount of hate in the world. Nevertheless, knowing of the secret fraternity of those who hate may allow one to intervene in their guilty pleasures and so short-circuit their satisfaction. The price of this inter­vention, which will only infrequently be effective, if history is any guide, is that of a terrible knowledge, one that connects the terrible things nations do with the terrible things that each person has at some point done to another person. That connection is hatred, which like Thanatos, to which it is so closely allied, is a principle that connects individual with world history. It is not a connection of which to be proud".

More on this topic tomorrow......................

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