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How Hatred Grows and How to Disable It

Ms.Dora, a certified Christian counselor, explores facts, attitudes, and habits that can help us maintain our physical and mental wellbeing.

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The story of my earliest hate experience is told in my silly four-year old mindset. It reveals how easily negative emotions can grow in childish minds which have not been disciplined to explore feelings.

My shiny-red ball became my best friend in the absence of playmates. It rolled, with me running behind it, all over our front yard --until the day it caused me to not like it anymore.

Per Yoda: Anger Leads to Hate

That's right. The ball was to blame for my change in attitude toward it. Why? Because had I not bend over to pick it up, there would be no pain in my right side. That day, as I continued to bend and to hurt, my dislike turned to anger and progressed to hate. Eventually, I threw the ball away.

That night, as I lay in my bed, the pain which the ball started in my right side continued. The next day, my appendix was removed during emergency surgery. Look what my favorite toy did to me! Is it not reasonable for me to hate all shiny-red balls?

The Internal Pain

The pain in my right side surfaced in the process of making contact with the ball. The ball became the scapegoat, because I did not recognize the real culprit—the dangerous health hazard inside me. My pain was physical, but sociologist Martin Oppenheimer of Rutgers University argues that people can be taught to hate others if they can be convinced to blame said others for their pain of frustration, insecurity, and fear of losing things they want or need.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines hate as intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury. People who are angry that a foreigner is elected to a position which they think should be held by a native can be seduced into hating the foreigner. People who are fearful that a president will deny them opportunity to enter his country will probably hate him. It helps to understand that hatred, whether or not it is seems justified, originates from negative emotions inside us.

If we can understand and deal with our internal issues, we may be able to create options beside hate, for dealing with other people.

The External Aggravation

It would be tragic if during our mature years we still operate on the childish perspective of blaming others for aggravating the pain inside us. The pain is a pre-existing condition and every aggravation is a call to internal cleansing, repairing or healing, not a summon to get angry or to hate.

The ball did not hurt me, although at first, it happened to be present whenever I felt the pain. If it can be credited for anything, it must be credited for making me aware that I needed medical attention.

Similarly, if my envy or my sense of loss surfaces at the sight of my ex-husband's new wife, she may be credited with making me aware that I need to practice self-control and self-affirmation. If I realized that it would not make sense to hate her. Negative emotions do not disappear for good, but they can remind us to guard our inner peace from destruction by external situations.

How Hate Escalates

The following table is prepared by Partners Against Hate for middle schools in a lesson titled The Escalation of Hate. Adults can benefit from it too. Notice that the first steps are negative attitudes (inside us) which grow into outward expressions of hate. Notice also the various shades in which hate functions.

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On the original chart, steps 1(a) and (b) are on the same line. So are 4(a) and (b).

Steps

Explanation of Term

1(a) Prejudice

a negative attitude toward a person or group formed without examining individual characteristics

1(b) Stereotyping

an oversimplified generalization about an entire group of people without regard to individual differences

2. Discrimination

the denial of justice and fair treatment

3. Scapegoating

unfairly blaming an individual or group for circumstances that have varied causes

4(a) Violence

an action that emotionally or physically harms individuals or communities

4(b) Hate Crime

criminal act directed at individual or property because of real or perceived race, ethnicity, gender, religion, nation origin, sexual orientation, or disability

5. Genocide

the systematic destruction or the attempted extermination of a group of people

We may fight against what is wrong, but if we allow ourselves to hate, that is to ensure our spiritual defeat and our likeness to what we hate.

— George William Russell

Revenge Is Not the Answer

Revenge on human beings can really cause hurt, but consider the following two quotes and see whether it ever does what we wish it would.

  • There is some comfort in killing that which has hurt you, but it is cold comfort. It'll destroy things inside of you that the original pain wouldn't have harmed. ― Laurell K. Hamilton
  • An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind. ― Mahatma Gandhi

Revenge is obviously not the answer. If we hate in response to hate, it spreads and destroys even the innocent in its path. We have witnessed the death of many innocent people during wars and terrorist attacks between countries and groups who hate each other, but their revengeful acts have only managed to make more people fearful.

Options to Disable Hate

The summary of the points in this article is helpful.

  • Focus on finding the cause of inner discomfort, pain or conflict instead of feeding the negative emotions which surface because of it. Hating external objects because of inner injuries is a waste of time.
  • Hate escalates both subtly and aggressively. Be aware of the various expressions of hate and avoid people or groups who promote hatred in any of its forms.
  • Treat aggravation as a call for reflection to discover the cause of the pain. Humility and forgiveness are useful tools in interaction with people we prefer to hate.
  • Responding to hate with hate is not an option.
Credit: Michele

Credit: Michele

In addition, engage in non-violent forms of response to hate. For example:

  • Support efforts by civic groups, the police and the media to disable hate.
  • Provide emotional and any other necessary form of support to victims of hate.
  • Teach anti-hate values like tolerance, compassion, equality and brotherly love whenever the opportunity arises.
  • Show concern by speaking and writing anti-hate opinions.

Finally, believe with all your heart that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

References

Kiger, Patrick J: How Hate Works, (Copyrighted 2017 by HowStuffworks)

Seltzer, Loren F. Ph.D.: Five Biggest Problems With Revenge and Its Best Remedies, (Copyrighted 1991-2017 by Psychology Today)

© 2017 Dora Weithers

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