Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hating Hate & Other Pastimes by Louis Evan Palmer

While Hate and Love do seem like cornucopias - endless flows of something out of nothing - it might be more useful to think of them as energies that can manifest themselves as acts upon beings, objects and conditions or states such as consciousness and feelings. Energies that need sources and mediums and propagation mechanics.

One of the routes often proposed in eradicating evil and its effects is to tackle one of its major causes - that being hate. But one of the flaws in that approach is that it addresses the instruments used such as articles or films or even speech but not the source. It's like taking a bat away from a hooligan but not dealing with the hooligan. It goes to the core - what causes hate? What gives birth to hate? What nourishes it? What makes it spread? The same can said of Love or Fear or or any of major emotions or attitudes.

A question that comes to the fore almost immediately is whether hate is a primary feeling or attitude or if it, in fact, derives from another more basic feeling. Is the foundation of attitude and feeling the more elemental, physical actions and reactions like fight or flight and hunger and cold? It seems that hate cannot just spring into existence without some impetus, some framework. Hate being the act or wish for harm or denial of good or gain to someone or something. It's very much of a struggle against someone or something that hurts you or threatens you or steals or denies you someone or something. This struggle engenders feelings of malice and anger towards this target. The blows or anticipated blows can be painful or humiliating, they damage us depending on how powerful and directed they are. They also depend on our definition of self as the larger and broader that is, the more things that can threaten us. This might be why empires hate the most - they have the most to fear.

What a different question - what do you fear? Why do you fear them/it? Why are you angry?

It's been observed that hate cannot transcend itself. It is bound to its own self-reinforcing circumference. How much more so than for fear and anger. Maybe it is in its very nature that negative feeling and attitude cannot go beyond itself because it cannot let go. Another potent wellspring of hate is indignation (a type of anger) especially when it is caused by cruelty or injustice.

Hate does not seem to spring forth on its own, it is a feeling and attitude that requires thought and conceptualization. This in turn makes the attachment to it stronger and the arguments against it weaker. The counterpoint to hate cannot merely be taking away the mediums for its expression and thereby hoping to starve it out of communities. It ignores the true source of the hate and it often gets mixed up with disapproval and disagreement. Fighting hate should not lead to a lessening of freedom. Anti-bias and anti-hate laws are not the real answer.

Society must discuss hate in a context of what is causing it, not just outlawing expressions of it. It must address injustices that feed it. The right reaction to injustice should not be hate and its entourage. There should be constructive alternatives and they must work. Lies and hopelessness also create hate. We must learn and teach how to cope with the many things that lead to hate. We must detoxify our culture. Hate, anger, and fear will destroy any society where it takes too deep a hold. Critical thinking can also serve as a potent antidote to hate. As the Buddha said: "Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else.." Whatever is enough to hurt someone else is enough to hurt you.

Hating Hate & Other Diversions, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


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