Why do we hate?
I really do enjoy Bill Maher’s show, but when he goes on his tirades about religion, he’s so emotional and (ironically) dogmatic about it, it really is like watching [insert religious zealot here]. On the one hand he complains that religions take their scripture too literally, and on the other he proceeds to take the scriptures too literally in order to criticize them. He complains that extremists and zealots should be pushed out of public discourse for their blunt-mindedness, but then brings up extremists and zealots as straw men to represent an entire populace he wishes to vilify. He complains that religions do no good in the world, and then gets angry at missionaries who bring food to the starving because they do so to serve their religion.
All of his analysis filters through a very angry, cynical, judgmental filter.
Let me make a strange connection here to social media. I was recently talking to someone who was offering the usual, ‘You know what, I just don’t get it- Twitter, FaceBook… What’s the point?… etc. etc.’ He’s a non-tech person, almost a Luddite, and of course as such he finds it difficult to be a part of something that basically lives and thrives on a platform of tech. Lightly paraphrasing, he tells me ‘If I had my way, it would all just be turned off, shut off – not because it’s evil, but because I just don’t get it, and the fact that so many are participating in it and I’m not, it creates this self doubt and feeling of disconnectedness that then makes me feel resentment towards it, resulting in me wanting it to just go away.
And I thought my Netflix Guilt was bad.
The interesting part is that about two years ago we had a similar conversation about religion. He said it should just be made illegal, turned off, shut down. He was not as forthcoming as to his reasoning then, because after all, it was religion we were discussing. But two years later in talking to him about social media, the way his mind works really came clear to me. And if you quiz him on any of the tenets of most of the religions he wants to ‘turn off’? He doesn’t know all that much. Just some personal anecdotal information regarding his own experience, and outside of that- just what he hears on the news, word-of-mouth, etc. You know, like most people. Judging the many because of the few, forgetting that those sources earn their keep through the elevation of negativity.
These specific cases are about religion, but this type of mental approach to things is a very human flaw that really, many of us wrestle with, in varying levels. In effort to keep a grip on our own lives and challenges, we cut things out to feel less overwhelmed. We reduce our empathy for whatever it is, just to deal. We look straight ahead on the street and not at the homeless person sitting with a broken shoe and an empty cup.
It just so happens that we all create and deal with the absence of empathy in different ways. Ultimately, a lack of empathy creates a powder keg of human emotion waiting for stimulus. If even an ounce of pain stimulus comes from that which we do not understand and do not empathize with, fear sets in. And of course, we quickly mask that fear with anger.
There’s no such thing as dark, only an absence of light. There’s no such thing as evil, only an absence of good. What does this have to do with hate? Well, there’s no such thing as hate, only anger flourishing inside an ignorant thought. The more ignorant, the more anger. Likewise, there is no such thing as love, only empathy flourishing inside a patient thought. The more patience, the more empathy.
And considering that ignorance leads directly to a lack of empathy in our flawed human minds, and considering that anger stems directly from a lack of patience, and considering that learning requires patience, the whole thing is very circular.
So why do we hate?
Because it’s easier than to love.
It really is that simple. And this is both hopeful and demoralizing all at once, because of what it says about humanity.