Hate, the book: 016

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 One
Chapter Three
Why Study Hate?  (Continued)

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

Egypt, a civilization that was legendary centuries before Athens or Rome.  Egypt, a civilization so advanced that they flattened ground and built pyramids to specifications that are better than most modern houses.

Egypt is the home of the Narmer Palette, a simple, unassuming piece of stone sitting in the main entrance of the Great Egyptian Museum.  Walk into this massive modern building, located not too far from Tahrir square, and pay the modest entry fee at the desk located near the front entrance.  Look around at the high ceilings and the many old-fashioned wood display cases.

In the middle of the floor stands an unassuming wooden case.  It’s about as tall and as wide as a man, and it is quite overshadowed by all the other cases around it.  Yet this particular display stands alone. It requires only a few steps and you are there.

This is the beginning of history. This is the Narmer Palette.  It’s roughly the size and shape as a small shield, taller than it is wide, half a hand thick, rather gray, depicting a few people and scenes on both sides. As a piece of art it’s wonderful, until you realize it’s almost five THOUSAND years old.  Then it becomes incredible.  Then comes the mind-shattering realization: This isn’t just art, it’s writing.

Read the Narmer Palette and listen to the story it tells, a story about the unification of the world, the civilized world. For the world back then consisted of Upper and Lower Egypt. The Palette shows King Narmer standing in front of a kneeling man. Is this man about to be disciplined?  Killed?  Or is he in defiance of the King,or swearing undying fealty to his service?  Or is he begging for his life so that he may see his wife one last time?

On the other side, beneath the King’s feet, we see two men sprawled upon the ground. We don’t know why.  If they are representing living subjects, why would they be lying there? Are these the King’s own soldiers fallen in battle?  Or are these the defeated, fallen enemies whose bodies were trampled by the victorious King?

We don’t know exactly what message the Palette contains, but we do know this.  It is writing, the earliest form of hieroglyphics that later became the language of the Pharaohs.  What we know is in the era it was written, there had been a war, great battles, fighting. Subjugation of others was already an accepted practice. Hate is recorded within this piece of stone.  The sculptor who chiseled away bits of stone left the story of King Narmer, and the story of humanity’s capacity for hate.

So again, why should we study hate?

We must study hate because it is one of the greatest influences on our lives.  We must study hate because it has been a powerful influence since the beginning of history.  And we must study hate if we have any hopes of reducing its ruinous impact upon ourselves, and our children.

Do you have doubts about your ability to study hate?  Do you think it is something beyond human comprehension?  Fear not, for in the next chapter we will address the nature of hate, and why you and I are more than capable of understanding this great force.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 015

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 One
Chapter Three
Why Study Hate?  (Continued)

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

Almost as slavish as the above examples was the treatment of European children during the industrial revolution, who were nothing but slaves serving as fodder to fuel capitalism.  Here’s another story from what is now today’s Iraq. An archaeologist in the 1850s, Austen Henry Layard was exploring the area for ancient remains, including the lost city of Nineveh.  He discovered many incredible artifacts, most of which were transported back to England for safe-keeping.

But it’s his observations of local history that are most relevant to us. He noted the following on a local excursion, led by one of his hosts.

“The weather was hot and sultry; the Christians had brought but small supplies of water and provisions; after three days the first began to fail them, and they offered to capitulate. The terms proposed by Beder Khan Bey, and ratified by an oath on the Koran, were their lives on surrender of their arms and property. The Kurds were then admitted to the platform. After they had disarmed their prisoners, they commenced an indiscriminate slaughter; until, weary of using their weapons, they hurled the few survivors from the rocks into the Zab below. Out of nearly one thousand souls, who are said to have congregated here, only one escaped.”
 From Layard’s “Nineveh and its Remains” page 142 Lyons Press, 2001 Originally published 1851, describing an event in what is now known as Iraq.

And so our story, our stories, continue.  The further we look back in time the more we find, for in every era, in every nook and cranny of our world, there are stories illustrating the horrible capacity of hate within man.

How pervasive is this capacity for hate? Is it truly as all-encompassing and eternal as I claim? As an illustration of how closely our species is connected to hate, let’s examine the very nature of history. Yes, history itself.

History is the story of man, told by man.  So finding our bones in sediments a million years old is not history; it’s the study of old bones, and dirt. But a scroll, or a painting bearing a message, that’s history. History is our story told through writing. Any writing, like these words. Or your email, or your Grandmother’s journal. These are all pieces of history.

Like all things, history was born, it did not exist since the beginning of time. That means there is some piece of writing that is the first, the earliest, the most unquestionably and unequivocal first fragment of writing. This thing represents the beginning of history. And where do we find this first fragment?

Egypt.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 014

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 One
Chapter Three
Why Study Hate?  (Continued)

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

Almost everywhere I look, in almost every year of my life, I can point to some event and say “here is evidence of hate.”

Here is a story from the 1960s, told by a young Columbia college student of the time, James Simon Kunen.  He’s standing by a group of other students, watching as their protests against the Vietnam War are being countered by school administration and city police.

“I’m standing with some friends when I notice two husky grey-suited gentlemen walking up to a long-haired kid standing alone on the edge of the lawn with a camera. Suddenly they run up to him and knock him to the ground and start punching him and dragging him away. He screams, “Leave me alone, please, I was just standing there!” They’re plainclothesmen. I yell “Come on, there’s just two of them. Let’s get him back.” Five of us start to run towards them. I am terribly frightened and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I get there. Someone behind us throws an empty Seven-up can which bounces off one of the plainclothesmen’s heads. Right off his grey crew cut. He yells, “Get back or somebody’s going to get killed,” and reaches to his side, pulls out a gun and waves it at us. I yell, “He’s got a gun” and bolt away, not knowing whether or not I am going to hear a bang.”
James Simon Kunen, “Strawberry Statement” pages 42 – 7 describing an event from the 1960s, New York City.

The student revolts of the 1960s marked the beginning of my awareness, yet a lifetime of evidence is still insufficient. For my life began at the dawn of the space age, not so long ago. My parents, their parents and beyond, all lived lives in this same world, decades before mine.

What did they see? Our ancestors saw an iron curtain fall upon a city, and then half the world. They watched as a single bomb instantly flattened two cities and annihilated hundreds of thousands of lives. They watched entire cities burn, engulfed in raging firestorms. Later they saw that Hitler had millions of innocent Jews, Christians, Gypsy, Muslim, and other “alien” people gassed as part of some deranged “final solution.”
Not to be outdone, Stalin also launched his own version of a final solution, moving millions of his own citizens into Siberia, most of whom never returned.

All of this is just the tip of an iceberg.  Unknown millions of people have been used and abused through recent centuries.  Armenians were marched to their death across Turkey; Chinese, Indians and other Asians were consumed by their European overlords; and slaves were transported from Africa to the “New World” in order to provide the new lands of liberty with cheap manpower.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 013

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 One
Chapter Three
Why Study Hate?  (Continued)

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

But his mother could.  She was in charge of his welfare.  Being recently divorced, taking care of her son was her hard-won right. When the killer’s high school administrators warned her that he was disturbed and needed counseling, she refused. When she bought her gun, she was taught, as all gun owners are taught, to be careful with her weapon and to secure it safely so that no unauthorized or untrained persons would have access to that gun, especially children.  Instead, her son had access to that weapon.

It may be that the underlying reasons she refused to help her son, or refused to restrict his access to firearms was because, within her, she felt that she had been wronged. In other words, within the mother, was a form of hate. Alas, we will never know for sure. The killer murdered his mother before he killed anyone else.

What about the cowardly act Russian President Vladimir Putin and his puppets perpetrated on the people of Crimea? Including downing a passenger jet in Crimean airspace by unknown missiles?

Starting from the very top of the Russian hierarchy all the way down to the lowliest soldier, a mindset must exist that makes them all believe they have the right to kill Ukrainians as they see fit.  They assume, apparently, that Ukrainians do not deserve the same respect as everyday Russians.

Clearly, they say to themselves this simple, yet damning phrase: “I hate them.”
They may never say this out loud, they may never even say it in these exact words, or even in thought. But they say it in a thousand different other ways… in their actions… how they look at them… the way they speak their names in the jokes they tell… and ultimately, how they kill them when given the chance.

As people we measure all things relative to ourselves. A speck of dust is small, and the galaxy is large. When it comes to time, we are most comfortable with events that occur within our own lifetimes, especially the part of our lives that we are most aware of. It should be no surprise, then, that the most significant events of hate for us individually will always be those that occur during these “recent” years.

My years of awareness are not the same as yours, yet let me share some of the more notable events of hate I have experienced during my roughly half-century of awareness. It starts with the assassination of a president, John F. Kennedy. Then the great Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy. There’s the shooting of unarmed students at Kent State University, which left four dead. There’s the bombing of a marine barracks in Lebanon, and the forced exodus of Palestinians from the lands in Israel. There was Saddam Hussein of Iraq gassing his own people. There were massacres in Uganda and Rwanda, dirty diamonds in Central Africa, and ethnic cleansing in Serbia and Ethiopia. Today there is the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, along with ultra-nationalists in Germany and the USA. And the despot of North Korea turning the people into robots to do his bidding.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 012

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 One
Chapter Three
Why Study Hate?  (Continued)

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

Such is the scale of humanity’s capacity for tragedy that I have the ability to show a second example that is far more tragic, hateful, and even more of an ominous portent of our shared future. For less than a month ago in Pakistan, a band of religious extremists decided that their god wanted to see 130 young, innocent children slaughtered, even while under the sheltering gaze of their elementary teachers.

These extremists apparently believed their god wanted those children dead because they were learning subjects like reading, math, and biology. In their twisted minds, they felt their all-powerful deity did not want these innocent kids to discover common concepts like as democracy, liberty, free will, and gender equality. Instead, this “heavenly being” offered his suicidal followers a bribe: an after-life paradise in return for creating Hell on Earth.

Like the senseless killings in New York City, the original cause of this tragedy can most likely be traced back to some preceding event, each of which has some kernel of similarity to what unfolded in Pakistan. Before this cowardly attack on innocent and unsuspecting school children, there may have been a drone strike in the Taliban’s village. Perhaps the drone hit a school there, we may never know. It may be that the suicide killers were told this as part of their motivational training. This we will also never know.
But the fact that each and every atrocity can have another event singled out as the “cause” of that atrocity seems to be a common denominator for all hateful acts. This seems to hold true no matter what the atrocity is, who committed it, or when.

Speaking of when, let’s leave these events of the most recent past behind and analyze a few that that have occurred over the past few years. One atrocity that comes to mind parallels the bloodshed in Pakistan, and that is the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

Here, a classroom of children was gunned down by a deranged teenager. Perhaps it’s unfair to include this exact example in our depiction of hate, if only because there is a chance that the killer (who shall remain nameless) was not indeed hateful, but was sick instead.

Mental illness is a real and serious disease, and the science of recognizing and treating it is still in its infancy. The Sandy Hook Elementary School killer may have only been acting out deranged thoughts beyond his control.

Yet, in order to be completely fair in our analysis of hate, can we let him and those close to him off the hook completely? Perhaps not. For he lived with his mother. Being young and troubled, he could not legally own guns.

To be continued …