Hate, the book: 076

Hello Curious Friend.  Welcome to my book about Hate.  The number tells you where you are in the sequence.  I look forward to your comments.

Part Three
Chapter Fourteen
Definitions Defined   (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

Even here the definition is made negatively.  That is to say, instead of telling us what emotions are directly, Spencer and Darwin tell us what emotions are not.  There is nothing wrong with a negative definition, as it reminds us that our understanding is incomplete.

Summarizing Spencer, all “feelings” come from two sources, emotions or sensations.  The difference between emotions and sensations are that sensations are generated in our corporeal framework.  Subsequently, emotions are all feelings not generated by our bodies; they are “in our minds.”

Of course, Spencer did not have the benefit of microbiology or machines that can watch our minds work, so the line between body and mind was a bit easier for him to draw.  Nonetheless, his definition is still the best we have to work with at the present time.
As I said, sensations are a type of feeling generated by our corporeal framework.  By this definition, eating too much gives way to the feeling and subsequent sensation of indigestion.

On the other hand, emotions are feelings generated outside our corporeal framework.  By this definition, looking at a plate of writhing octopus and being told it’s your dinner will create a feeling, and subsequent emotion, of revulsion.  Unless you like very fresh octopus, of course.

Now that we have a clearer understanding of what an emotion is, we’re in a better position to build a foundation we can build our definition of hate on.  Once we have this rudimentary definition in place, we’re going to put it through its paces.

First, we’ll start with what I call a “hate play.”  This will be a simple scenario exploring the complex relationships exhibiting and expressing hate throughout our society.  Normally this would be an incredibly tall order.  However, it will be easier for us because we’ll start slowly and work up to more complex situations.

The first hate play is going to present an imaginary situation, something that may have occurred thousands of years ago.  The reasons I have chosen to start with something simple from today’s world are these: we must reduce the complexities of our relationships to their most fundamental components to best understand these phenomena, and we must distance ourselves from any possible emotional bias that could sway our impressions.

As I surveyed the possible hate plays that could have been presented, the problem I faced was not an issue of finding a good example.  No, the problem was that they were all appropriate, and numerous.

Not only does recent history provide plenty of examples, the distant past offers exponentially more examples, many of which are well-known and infamous.  Current events are another source I could have drawn from, but most them are tangled up in cultural bias and lack of insight.  The insults and hurt are simply too fresh for most of us to consider them objectively.

So, after much thought, I have decided to abandon all of these readily accessible hate stories for a more simple expression of hate, one that mirrors a situation many of us may have experienced at some point in our lives.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 075

Hello Curious Friend.  Welcome to my book about Hate.  The number tells you where you are in the sequence.  I look forward to your comments.

Part Three
Chapter Fourteen
Definitions Defined

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

“I have often felt much difficulty about the proper application of the terms, will, consciousness, and intention.”
C. R. Darwin, Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. Text based on the 1872 edition. Ch XII pg 357

Definitions are everything.  A good definition is the first step towards a clear understanding of the concept under study.  A great definition is the first step towards enlightenment about that concept.  When the great Charles Darwin complained about how difficult it was to know when you were using those nebulous terms of “will” or “consciousness,” he was also making this broader statement.  The bottom line is you need a good definition before you can properly use, and understand, any concept.

We want more than that – a great definition of hate we can share with the world.  The third part of this book is the culmination of everything we’ve done so far.  Here we construct a solid definition of hate, a definition that remains solid where it needs to be solid.

Yet our definition must also be able to bend and sway in those areas where some flexibility is needed.

Consider a good definition to be like a katana, one of those famous swords wielded by the Japanese Samurai.  They favored these swords because they hold opposing qualities of sharpness, stiffness and flexibility, making them ideal for a multitude of battle conditions.

A good definition serves us in much the same way.  It will help us cut our way through the forests of ignorance towards a better understanding of ourselves, yet be flexible enough to allow some forgiveness should we attempt to cut too far too fast.

Constructing a good definition is never an easy task, especially when the concept we’re trying to define is fuzzy.  This is obviously the case with hate, and is why we’ve had to wade through so much material up to this point.

Our task is made even harder when it’s enmeshed with other, equally fuzzy concepts.  For instance, here’s an observation made by Professor Stanley Rachman, a professional who dealt with concepts like hate and fear on a daily basis:

“Fear, on the other hand, is often confused with surprise, or with anger and / or disgust.”
Professor Rachman’s introduction to Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. pg xi

Darwin says almost the same thing in one of his chapters, clumping together the concepts of rage with anger, indignation, sneering and defiance.  (See Pages 239 and 240 of the 1979 edition of “Expressions” cited above.)

Confusing enough?  Then consider that hate is classified as an emotion.  So are rage, anger, indignation, disgust, to name a few.

So, just how do we define emotion?

This is an important question because we going to work on defining something that is classified as an emotion.  Therefore, the basis of all these emotions must have some common ground that we can use to help us construct our definition of hate.  The best definition for emotion I’ve found comes indirectly from Darwin, who cites Herbert Spencer’s 1863 essays.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 074

Hello Curious Friend.  Welcome to my book about Hate.  The number tells you where you are in the sequence.  I look forward to your comments.

Part Two
Chapter Thirteen
Qualities   (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

Want a more modern example?  How about a gun enthusiast who teaches his children to hate anyone who’s dark-skinned, homeless, or poor?  As in our prehistoric tribes example, there is a cost of hate here too, as the son of this gun-toter is more likely to ignore or repulse those who have beliefs different from his own.

This cost may not seem obvious, but is there nonetheless because shutting out people who have different beliefs than you harms you in many subtle ways.

Let’s say you’re the son of our gun-toter, and you were taught to believe that poor people are lazy and to be hated and avoided.  What if that one belief were so important to you that you refused to socialize or talk with anyone who believed differently, and you spent considerable energy instilling this belief in your own children?

If that were the case, you’d be a very close-minded individual with very close-minded children.  And as a result of your belief, you and your children would miss out on countless opportunities for enrichment and enjoyment.

On the other hand, if you see that life’s much richer if you don’t cling to belief, attitudes and opinions, then you can enjoy far more opportunities for happiness.  You’ll have more friends, more opportunities for finding love, and more chances for financial success.  This then, is the most common cost of hate: the loss of options.

Here’s another analogy. Think of life as a great store, one in which many different things are sold, like WalMart.  If you enter this WalMart with hate in your heart, you are going to be restricted to certain aisles.  Maybe that’s good, because your family only wants things from those aisles.  You’re happy because it makes shopping easier.  They’re happy because they get what they want, what they’ve always gotten.

But if you enter WalMart without hate, it’s as if you’ve entered a different world.  All the aisles are open to you.  You have many more choices.  It’s going to take longer to shop, but think of the interesting new things you’ll discover.  Perhaps you’ll save money.  Perhaps you’ll discover a new candy bar.  And possibly, quite possibly, you’ll meet someone so fascinating that a whole new world of possibilities is open to you.

It’s time now to close this chapter.  We’ve touched on some of most important qualities of hate, although by no means have we exhausted all possibilities.

But we’ve touched on enough of them to have a solid foundation for the construction of a solid definition of hate.

We’ll construct that definition next in Part Three.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 073

Hello Curious Friend.  Welcome to my book about Hate.  The number tells you where you are in the sequence.  I look forward to your comments.

Part Two
Chapter Thirteen
Qualities   (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

Let’s go back to the relatively simple, yet brutal example of our African tribe.  A group of our tribe’s children had been playing innocently when they discovered the intruder from the hated tribe.  Our innocent victim had also been playing, and was so distracted in her play that she hadn’t heard the other children approach.

But now the other children have found her.  They all stop.  There is silence.  For a moment that seems like an eternity, the children smile.  In that same moment, the girl in the stream looked into the eyes of the oldest boy, and he at her.

In the absence of hate, wonderful possibilities could have emerged.  This boy may well have thought, “This little girl could be a playmate, t someone I could love.”  But in the next moment that tender thought was gone.

For he and the other children of his tribe have now remembered what they were taught. They are no longer innocent children, but members of a tribe.  And the girl in the stream is a member of that “other” tribe.  Their hateful training kicked in, literally.  For they kicked, pushed, hit, poked, and tore this little girl apart.

What is the cost of hate here?  For the young girl it was the ultimate cost.  For her family, grief.  For the oldest boy in our murderous tribe, his hate may well have cost him his soul mate.  Murder thus became an accepted part of these children’s lives.  How much easier would it have been for them to murder again?  Much easier.

Now you’ve seen a prehistoric example of some truly terrible costs of hate.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 072

Hello Curious Friend.  Welcome to my book about Hate.  The number tells you where you are in the sequence.  I look forward to your comments.

Part Two
Chapter Thirteen
Qualities   (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

If a group of our children happens to meet a child of the other tribe, what do we expect them to do?  We expect them to kill her.  And then what do we do when they return with news of this killing?

We celebrate, for as a result of the killing have reduced the perceived threat from this other tribe.  In short, we have hurt them, and is that not the purpose of hate?

Our children would have been just as likely to play with this girl from the other tribe, even love her as a sister, had we not taught them to hate.  If the elders of this other tribe had prepared her properly, she would have known to run away from anyone from our tribe, or never to have put herself in such a vulnerable position in the first place.

The point of this story is that we, as parents of the children of our tribe, have effectively used hate as a tool to prepare our children against a perceived enemy.

Teaching children persists in virtually all cultures even today.  For example, many parents teach their daughters to distrust and fear men.  Conspiracy enthusiasts teach their children to hate the government.  Gun enthusiasts teach their children to hate those who seek to control guns.  Religious conservatives teach their children to hate Hollywood and Western corruption.  Light-skinned supremacists teach their children to hate anyone with different skin color than theirs.

Such intolerance goes on and on, a tradition of hate that can last hundreds of years and cause misery for many people.  But in the eyes of all the parents who use hate as a tool for control, they have done good by giving their children a great gift, a benefit.  They are saying to their children: “It’s a good thing to hate; your life will be better as a result.”

This is the mindset that enables hate to be passed from one generation to the next.  Consider those who fear anyone with dark skin.  The parents may well feel that they are instilling vital survival skills in their children by teaching them to hate those who are dark, just as they were taught by their parents.  And maybe they take this lesson in hate a step further by encouraging their children to carry a gun, “just in case.”

Maybe one day, years later, one of these now-adult children comes across a dark-skinned man lying on a sewer grate begging for money.

It may be that this man can’t be trusted, and maybe he’s just waiting for a chance to mug an unsuspecting victim.  Perhaps the gun will prevent our now-adult hater of the dark-complected from being robbed.

Thus, of hate and fear, the beggar is shot, and the shooter is now in a world of legal trouble.  This story illustrates the potential high cost of hate.  For in the case of every loving parent who uses hate as a way to shape their child’s life, there is a chance, a good chance, that the parent does not consider the potential cost of that hate on the child.

To be continued …