Posts Tagged ‘hatred’

The Emotion of Hate

18 July 2019

The essay below is almost verbatim from a copy I kept. It was probably written in 1968. I presented it with a collage of news photos from magazines – probably ones we had at  home. The collage of photos is lost, but as they were news photos, similar ones still exist on the internet. My copy has notes from my teacher (not sure who she was) which are not included here. It is being published here for the first time to give my readers some idea of where my thinking was back then, and how long I have had these issues on my mind. The first photo is from the Birmingham student protests of May 1963. The second photo is from the Columbia University (New York) student protests of April 1968.

19630503-birmingham_alabama

With these pictures I have tried to illustrate, among other things, the emotion of hate. This emotion, as all emotions, belongs exclusively to man. It occurs under many circumstances and may be accompanied by fear. I used a dictionary to help me find what fear was. One of the basic things that fear is is “ an agitated feeling aroused by an awareness of actual or threatened danger…an uneasy feeling that something may happen contrary to one’s desires.” I would like to try to elaborate on this, so as to be able to understand it better.

One of the main things I would like to study is what one’s desires are. Most people have a conscious, or at least biological, desire to live. One may also desire to conform to sets of values determined by his peer groups. These values may include certain prejudices. Many people want things to stay as they are; they do not desire change. This may be a change in governmental or business institutions, or it could be change in their own lives or values. Another thing people desire is to feel as if they are better than someone else, or have power over someone else. Many people have a desire for wealth.

The desire to live is basic. Within this basic desire we may include the need for food, clothing and shelter. Since these things, in our system, are not free, one must have money to buy them; one must have money to buy life. One must have a paying job.

I must now go back to hate, “an extreme feeling of dislike or animosity,” says the dictionary. But why would this feeling ever occur? Have you ever hated? When you hated, you probably hated a person or group of people. What made you hate them? Maybe they said something about your looks, or actions, or manner. Did what they said affect your pride? Or perhaps they physically threatened you, perhaps they wanted to kill you. Or maybe someone told you to hate them, or described them to you so that they seemed inferior to you.

The basic reason for hating is because someone is threatening your life. Most other reasons for hating are reasons built up over hundreds of years of people living with people. They are reasons that need not exist. Of course these reasons, which are in most cases the desires I spoke of before, are hard to get rid of. But some of them keep others from attaining their basic desire – which is to live. This cannot and should not be tolerated by the victims of hate. They should not have to only half-live because of someone else’s hate for them. And if they hate the people who hate them, their feeling should be condoned and not condemned. This, I believe, is the only justifiable hate.

(Or is it?)

19680428-columbia-protests

Most of these students, at first, only fear. Fear that they will not feel fully educated when they leave the university they protest. But repelled by police, they now have something to fight, someone threatening their lives, and the fear turns to hate. And once the ball gets rolling, it’s hard to stop it.

The blacks have, for a long time, had a true and justified hate for whites, because the whites hated them, as humans at any rate. If the Negroes had remained slaves, the whites would have been content – they had someone to have power over, to dominate. But of course the Negroes were humans, not slaves, and not content. They hated the white man. And because of this, the whites hated them all the more.

So unless the white desire to dominate over the Negro ends, they will probably go on hating each other forever.

Possibly one way to eliminate hate is through education.

Basically, hate comes when one thinks his life is being threatened.

How do you get rid of the artificial desires and values of modern man? You only have to get rid of them enough to let everyone live a good life. Possibly these desires also come from a fear that one will not live a full life without the things desired. Is it possible that really no one in America feels he’s not living a good life? Maybe everyone should go back and re-examine their basic fear. If they find it to be a justifiable one, as I think it is, perhaps they are over-estimating what it takes to live. Or perhaps someone is helping them to overestimate. Their peer group? The business world?

I must find the root! A common denominator!

The trouble with human relations is that they can never be perfect, for human emotion is part of it. And human emotion will occasionally be able to rule a person’s whole body.

Of course, some emotions seem perfectly wholesome, such as love. Though at second glance there may be complications – or is that only in love as many see it? In the institution of marriage? For some people, marriage might ruin their love. Perhaps people were not meant to love one person for the entirety of life. In fact, it is horrible to think that all the more people a man is allowed in his life to love is one. Everyone should feel love for everyone. Love, as all emotions, was not meant to be hidden or kept by only two people.

And then there is hate… You know, it’s a funny thing: I used to hate a person so much that I threw rocks at him once. But now he’s one of my best friends. Of course it was a childish hate, bred from immaturity and failing to understand the other’s situation. Why, then, does this same childish hate occur in adults? Why do some adults let their emotions and their peer group just rule their lives? It must be because of something they need, something they want out of life, or maybe it is a misunderstanding of life. What could it be?

Perhaps it is fear. Fear that if one breaks one’s dependencies on others one will cease to exist. Fear that if they are not accepted in their group, they will be alone. It is as if they don’t know how to make new friends with new people. It’s as if they couldn’t face a world different than the one they are in.

Institutions often help this happen. Take Christianity. It has been the truth for some people for years that God created the earth and all the creatures on it. These and other beliefs have been thrust into people’s heads along with fear, the fear that if they don’t believe these things, they will go through huge amounts of pain – the most hated thing to man. And when these beliefs are contradicted, the Christian backs into his shell farther, afraid to believe the truth.

Yes truth, all important truth. Not nearly enough people take the truth as seriously as they should.

Shut minds breed fear and hate; these minds must be opened with love and courage. People must live the truth, yet always question it, curiously and openly.

Now another question: Is hate on anyone’s part really necessary?

As I envision the cave man, I see him with a myriad of unknown phenomena surrounding him. These included electrical storms, wild animals, birth, death, and many other wonders of nature. These men learned to hate some of these things – death for one, and things that caused it – and pain, and things that caused that. This included wild animals, weather extremes that started fires or ruined the food supply thus causing hunger and pain, and anything else causing pain or death.

These things – death, pain – were not understood and fantastic stories were built up around their causes. In the meantime, science has solved these questions, basically at any rate, and so anyone with an education can understand why death, pain, birth and other things exist, and why some of them are necessary.

One question has remained unsolved, and this is fate, on a personal basis at any rate. People have always wondered, why did he die then? Why was he the one to be killed, out of all those others? It is harder for people to understand why things like this happen, sudden deaths, with one in a million chances of the one that died dying. Yet people need not even get as flustered as they do, except for the fact that their emotions get in their way, emotions like love, emotions that aren’t essential to life yet certainly do, and will, exist. It seems that for hate to dissolve at this late date, people would have to be able to rule over their emotions. This seems impossible. But at least people could make a conscious effort to eliminate false hate as much as possible, making their hates as basic and justifiable as they can possibly be. The hate of other humans is not justifiable. But it has existed ever since the first cave man wanted someone to blame for something that happened, that he couldn’t explain.

Cruelty to animals seems to be a well-liked pastime among boys my age. They blow frogs up, burn mice live, use toads as slingshot projectiles, feed squirrels whiskey, cut a rat in half, sin a snake live.

Why is this necessary?

Perhaps it is better than taking out one’s hate on other people. But where were these boys exposed to so much hate in the first place? It’s horrible, grotesque, and brutal.

People ask, why are there so many problems in our society? I have been thinking about hate because I thought it was one of the main causes of our problems. Some people use other words to express this prevailing feeling of hate…racism, conflicting interests, unequal rights…but I see hate as the major factor in all of these.

Hate, as I have said before, has to do with man’s desires. It is, however, always hard for me to remember how it has to do with them. Perhaps it is this: One man, a businessman, pursues his desires which are, say, to make money. He thereafter does not bother to shell out the dough to train hard-core unemployed. But this results in the interference with another man’s basic desire to live (by earning money which can buy food, clothing and shelter). This may be seen as conflicting interests, but their interests are much the same. They both want money. If the richer man, though, were to sacrifice some of his to train hard-core unemployed, he would then get a new set of workers. This would probably pay back a bit of what was spent on them, and they would also be able to live a decent life. It all comes down to people having to look at themselves and others and be compassionate enough to bend their backs a bit for others so that they may fulfill the desire shared by all men – the desire to live.

So, we find a condition on the part of upper and middle class people which is often called apathy. They think of themselves as harmless, not taking anything away from underprivileged people. But they aren’t able to lift a foot off the floor to help them, support them, love them. And though they may think the absence of love for their fellow man on their part is not extremely important, by the time this absence of love gets down to the underprivileged people it turns to hate, for they are only half living. And so people must truly love their fellow man in order for hate to cease to exist. It means, at first glance, that the affluent must give some of it up. But in the end, everyone would benefit. In the end, there would be no hate, conflicting interests, racism, unequal rights, just living human beings.

P.S.

The above is probably the major philosophic work that survives from my early teenage years. I was surprised as I transcribed it. It summarizes all the most basic themes – at that level of thought – that I have been dealing with my entire life. I even get some of the basic concepts correct, which surprises me; I don’t recall where I learned them from. This is part of an ongoing project to digitize writings I have saved that I think might be important. But this first is probably the most important piece in my collection.