5 Reasons We Feel the Need to Hate

If you haven’t been ignoring every single piece of personal, societal, racial or global information, you’ve probably noticed that there is a lot of hatred in this world. Heck, if you’re reading this blog, then you are already quite open to getting other people’s views and getting news (or, you know, I shoved the link in your face).

The concept is nothing new. As a species, we’ve been surprisingly receptive and generous in hate. And everyone does it. Not even priests bathe in milk (An Indian idiom – denoting a person very virtuous in nature; generally negated in the sentence – “He is not bathed in milk.”) – just ask the Westboro baptist church.

Let’s see down the years.

In history, we’ve had an atrocious number of genocides. Whether it be Hitler’s Holocaust or Stalin’s Great Purge, history stands testament to people losing themselves in mindless hate. Here is an article showing just that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocides_in_history

For quite a few years now, education has taught us that racism is bad. For 4000 or so more, we as a species have practiced it. Whether it be comparing Jews to the heathens, or the subjugation of blacks because “The Bible condemns them to be servants unto servants.” or any hatred based on color or race is appalling and stupid. Fear of the unknown drives us to lash out, like a pathetic cornered animal. Only, the corner here is made-up. For more about racism: http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-02-01.htm

Other notable examples are sexism, hatred towards sexual orientation, slandering celebrities, and  bullying, among many others.

But despite the huge influence of music and literature promoting love and despite several anti-hate movements, why do we still feel the need to hate?

"Embrace the Hate", Kane says.
“Embrace the Hate”, Kane says.

Here are the 5 thinks I think are major reasons we tend to feel enmity, envy or aggression towards our fellow man:

Fear of the Unknown/Stereotyping

This, along with propagation of the same, I believe, is the reason racism exists, or at least, the reason racism started. Race hatred is one of the most powerful forms of malevolence, because it manifests in a group vs individual situation. Cultural and color differences are apparent at a glance. Paranoid, overprotective and small-minded people tend to abhor these differences, and instinctively lash out, verbally or physically. What is worse is that such people tend to attract similar-minded people. There is an Indian saying – “In a group, even a jackal becomes a lion.” Hence, in a public situation, racist hatred escalates quickly, making it one of the most antisocial and dangerous forms of hatred.

Exactly.
Exactly.

It is important to note that these fears also extend to hatred based on sexual orientation and religion. Hatred towards homosexuals arises mainly because of beliefs that gay people have made an unnatural and “evil” decision to be gay, that they shall forcefully convert each person to be gay, and that such people have a natural disposition to be rebellious and antisocial, among other such beliefs.

Religion raises similar issues where a person (again, in a “cornered” state), believes that if someone else believes in a different God, a notion strictly forbidden by the holy scripture of their own religion,  they will somehow be punished because they are “condoning the crime”, which also begets punishment (very conveniently).

Also worth noting is that all science fiction dealing with alien life depicts aliens as a much more advanced society, and that they are uniform/ (mostly) uniform species and have no concept of religion, in contrast to human beings who come in several variations of physical and social characteristics.

Dominance and Control

Often, two situations arise in a relationship simultaneously. One person gets too much power and control over the other, and/or one is under the control of the other, usually being blackmailed.  When both of these happen simultaneously, the relationship more often than not becomes abusive.

Both aspects are to be considered here. First, when one partner gets too powerful in a relationship, they start controlling more and more of their partner’s comings and goings. This kind of power is intoxicating, and the intoxication surprisingly does not yield pleasure, as one would expect but strangely, it breeds contempt towards the weaker partner. This relationship does not have to be between a couple in love, but any two individuals really. If you think about it, this is how bullying escalates. The bully, for whatever reason, vents his frustrations on the other, and begins to push the other more and more, as if to see how far the other will bend.

For the weaker partner, the obvious hatred comes from thoughts of being unfairly persecuted and thoughts of avoiding or escaping the situation. The weaker partner is quite often a timid or shy person, or a person who chooses to avoid confrontation and fighting, and this characteristic not only encourages the bully, but also bottles up more and more resentment in the weaker partner.

Social Pressure

(Credits to the wonderful Aakriti Verma for brainstorming with me and coming up with the basis for this point.)

The idea came about from parents who harbor resentment towards disabled children. In the hyper-competitive environment that we live in, each one of us is pressured to succeed, either actively or passively by the society. A lot of times, it is the individual’s perceived notion that society wants her to succeed, but is actually a self-imposed set of standards that are difficult or impossible to maintain. In such a situation, if we somehow “fail”, we get bothered very quickly, especially when we blame the so-called failure on factors other than the self’s hard work, such as circumstance, accident, or lack of initiative from another.

If a parent is very dedicated to raising their child as well as they possibly can, and due to some circumstances, there comes a big hurdle in the way, e.g. a child suffers permanent damage in an accident, it is found that the parent often blames the child for it, rather than the situation, and thus becomes hostile. Oh and God forbid s/he’s gay!

It’s the same as when an unfortunate woman is raped, the media, and by extension, we as a society find ways to blame the woman, as is becoming a common trend the world over (which is stupid, appalling and pathetic, by the way).

Unfair pressure from the society to be perfect gets to most of us, and the destructive criticism or judgment that the machine that is society throws at us, often causes us to rage against a weaker opponent, whoever is unlucky enough to be at hand. This is especially true of Indian parents, who put a ridiculous amount of pressure on their children because they do not want to be embarrassed in the closely-knit Indian society (Thankfully, my parents do not pressure me in this way. Unfortunately, I speak of the self-imposed impossible standards from experience).

In simple terms, anger is misdirected from the larger stronger opponent (societal norms and circumstances) to a weaker opponent, and this leads to dominance and subjugation, as discussed earlier.

Entitlement and Jealousy

This point is the original idea that led me to write this piece.

What I feel is a major stepping stone towards full-blown antisocial hatred is the unsettling amount of hatred that we throw out casually every day.

” I h8 Justin Bieber coz he’s such a fag. Your gay, loser!”

“Shah Rukh Khan is an arrogant jerk.”

“Steve Jobs was nothing special. He just stole from people by selling them overexpensive electronic crap.”

“I hate <that new movie>. It sucks.”

I find that the teenage and young adult group is most vulnerable to this kind of talk.

CHILL OUT! I sometimes say to people who make such remarks, “I don’t have the time to hate these people. I have a path to make for myself.” You’ve probably heard that one saying – An empty mind is a devil’s workshop.” By encouraging this casual hatred towards other people, be they celebrity or ordinary, we tell ourselves and others around us that it is okay to hate. It is not. Deriders will tell me that we have a right to opinion, and to them I say don’t abuse your right.

I feel that this directed hatred towards celebrities comes from this notion that forms in childhood that we are entitled to a good, successful, rich and happy life, and when we don’t get it, we tend to blame the people who apparently do have a happy life. Ironically, this sense of entitlement comes largely from the culture of art and film. A lot of movies are made where the dashing hero works hard throughout to get the perfect life and the perfect girl in the end. Let me make it perfectly clear – You and I are entitled to NOTHING. What we have and what we shall have comes from a combination of hard work, luck and confidence with a healthy dose of help from others.

This kind of casual hatred experienced a heavy boost with the popularization of the internet, the forums and message boards and social networking sites. Now stop blaming the sites – I know that would be the first thought that a number of you would have. Don’t blame the tool, blame the user. The anonymity that the internet offered and still offers encourages this kind of unsolicited judgment. Every person who ever took to the internet as salvation from whatever problems they were facing in real life, channel that subjugation anger out on this pervasive yet anonymous medium. If you don’t believe me or if you doubt my words, go look at a popular YouTube video’s comments section.

The "2/10 Would Not Bang" meme is a perfect parody and example of the kind of judgmental and hateful behaviour we see on the internet.
The “2/10 Would Not Bang” meme is a perfect parody and example of the kind of judgmental and hateful behaviour we see on the internet.

I believe that if we begin to address this issue right at the onset, that is, during a child’s formative years, we can make them model citizens who believe more in self-upliftment than pulling down others. If we nip this casual hatred in the bud, we can automatically curb the stereotype, dominance and pressure hatred that a person dishes out. Conversely, if we encourage this kind of behaviour, it could increase the frequency of the child getting in trouble, and eventually falling into a cycle of hatred (addressed below).

Hate Begets Hate AKA Retribution

As you read this article, it is entirely possible that you think either “Such people are stupid.” or “This author is stupid. He doesn’t know what he is talking about.”.

People may or may not have first-hand experience with any of the above  (or other) forms of animosity. Those who have, often want to not only escape the situation, but receive “justice” for the wrong they have suffered. I do not deride these feelings, but rather I point out that justice can be subjective.

Those who haven’t experienced such hatred first-hand nevertheless have read about it, or seen videos and movies, or have been exposed to it in some other second-hand manner. As we are wont to do, we do judge such acts as heinous and resent them, and this resentment is the seed of fresh hatred. Whether it is righteous anger or not is irrelevant. The point is that it is that easy for hatred to be born. It is a self-replicating, self-sustaining mechanism now.

Cycle of Hatred
Hatred Begets Hatred

In the end, I feel a little helpless, because there is a circle of hatred prevalent in society. As Masashi Kishimoto pointed out in his manga series Naruto Shippuuden, one feels outraged when their friends and family are massacred in a war, and they wreak justice upon those responsible. But then the family of these “aggressors” feel outraged and wronged, and they shall unleash their own brand of justice on the revenge-taker, and thus the cycle of hatred goes along.

I am personally troubled because I find it easy to forgive, but difficult to forget. Hence, I’m sure that at a sub-surface (surficial?) level, I do somewhat resent even those I forgive, and that makes me a hypocrite, something I don’t want to be.

If you feel your opinion can add to this topic, or address these issues, please feel free to comment, criticize, suggest and appreciate.

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  • Well, in Avatar, we were the advanced alien race destroying the less fortunate one.

    Also, the parents pressurizing kids situation is worse in China. A couple is allowed only one child, so that child carries the burden of ALL their hopes/dreams/aspiration etc.

    As for the entitlement/jealousy thing, thanks to the information age, new rules and resources come into play. There are SO MANY things to do. SO MANY things to learn. Imagine ‘attention’ as a resource. Some would call it ‘time’, I would prefer to call it attention because it’s ‘effective time’ or ‘active time’. For instance, I’m not a huge fan of Justin Beiber. Writing a derogatory message about him, I’m only giving him my time. My attention. This attention could’ve been used at a better place such as making a new build order for Starcraft or something that I enjoy doing. Bottomline being, in the present world, attention is a resource. It shouldn’t be wasted on things that don’t deserve it.

    One more thing, people can forgive for a variety of reasons. A moe maid spilling tea is forgiven because she is cute. A child is forgiven because they don’t understand the gravity of situations. People who get cheated on forgive for dependency issues/low self esteem. It takes a strong soul and broad mind to forgive so as to STOP THE CYCLE of hatred. If you are reading this and forgive someone in order to stop the cycle of hatred, be sure to explicitly mention it to them, so they can do the same if/when the time comes.

    ps – Love the, ‘You and I are entitled to nothing. We get what we work for.’ quote.

    • Oh no, please don’t assume more guns to mean more advanced. The Na’vi communed directly with their environment, something we have failed to do. Developing a codependency with their environment that provided them with everything, they felt no need to explore space. They were possibly a stagnant race, but were still ahead of us.

      About the China thing, we have a meme for that – High Expectations Asian Father.

      I like how you think. Attention is quickly becoming a resource, if it hasn’t already. In these terms, the point I tried to make was that in general people choose to waste attention, because it is easier than channeling it. Just compare it with people who waste an entire day lazing about being bored and complaining about how they’re bored (like I do sometimes, never a full day though).

      I think full disclosure is a great idea. If you forgive someone, tell them you did it to stop matters from escalating, and to stop hatred. But also tell them you’re not pitying them, because if someone feels they are being pitied, they get very strong feelings of resentment to the ‘pity-er’.

  • I love this explanation.

    Another: if X is unsure of himself, or how he should be, he asserts his self-image as The Way to Be, overcompensating: then anyone different seems a threat.

    If X is happy in himself, and self-accepting, he can accept others how they are.

    • I agree. If we think about it broadly, isn’t that religion? No one knows what is after death, or how the universe exactly works, or what the purpose of life is. The different religions were all created in an attempt to answer the complex questions of existence and reality. It is the sheep following the herder though, not the herder herself, that overcompensate and asserts the self-image.

      It’s a little sad though. If these are the issues with anger and hatred, then what is the solution? If the solution is to turn the other cheek, we end up in the dominance/subjugation situation. If it is to retaliate, we end up in the revenge cycle. If it is to assert yourself enough to keep the other person at bay, we might end up in the situation you presented, or if we talk at a global level, we end up in the arms race.