Hate, the book: 030

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 Seven
Questions?  (Continued)

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

As I said earlier, some people have eradicated the emotion of hate from their lives. The personal stories of such people have been fodder for Hollywood movies, while those who have influenced the minds of millions to abandon hate have been given lofty places of honor, like: Buddha and Jesus thousands of years ago and more recently, Gandhi and King.

So for those who have conquered hate, whether everyday person or saint, how exactly did they do it? Can we say that their hate is permanently gone? How has removing hate from their lives changed them?

Most importantly, can anyone remove the emotion of hate?

Now let’s extrapolate all this on a macro level: Can a society eliminate hate? How would that elimination impact individual members of society? Is it possible that society may be worse off than before if hate were eliminated?

In other words, does the existence of hate in society confer some advantage that we don’t recognize? If so, is it possible this advantage is something so important that without it our society could implode?

Does hate allow our society to successfully compete against other societies? Perhaps hate is a form of emotional arms race? Or is a necessary evil that allows us to develop a healthier society, akin to restricting calories to lose weight or exercising to get healthier?
The truth is we don’t know the answers to any of these questions.

But we can try to find out. Follow me.

By an unexpected turn of our history a bit of the truth, an insignificant part of the whole, was allowed out in the open. But those same hands which once screwed tight our handcuffs now hold out their palms in reconciliation: “No, don’t! Don’t dig up the past! Dwell on the past and you’ll lose an eye.”
But the proverb goes on to say: “Forget the past and you’ll lose both eyes.”
Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 An Experiment in Literary Investigation I – II, page x (introduction).


To be continued …

Hate, the book: 029

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 Seven
Questions?  (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.There is a general conception among biologists, and business people as well, that everything exists for a reason.  Therefore, in the case of hate, not only is there a cost, but possibly there also exists a benefit, somewhere.

If so, what are the benefits of hate?  Can we put a dollar figure on them?  Are the costs and benefits distributed equally throughout society?

One of the benefits of looking at hate from the perspective of biologists is that they have a very long and practical approach toward all animal behavior.  For example, we are animals, and we are capable of hate.

So are any other animals capable of hate?  Are primates that kill another primate’s offspring exhibiting hate?  What about our more distant relatives in the animal kingdom, like squirrels, rabbits, or mice?

How about frogs or fish? Trees, moss? The lowly amoeba? Imagine a hateful amoeba!
When did hate first appear in man? Was it something that evolutionary forces put into our genes to enable us to have meatier diets and bigger brains? Or is it a more recent phenomenon, a genetic adaptation that came along with agriculture and cities 10,000 years ago?

Biologically speaking, nothing bad exists. If any trait doesn’t give an organism reproductive benefits, that trait will eventually be selected out from the population. That’s why we don’t see fish with anchors. It’s possible such a species existed at one time. But try to swim away from a predator while carrying an anchor, and poof! there goes your species.

Therefore it would seem that the capacity for hate must have some positive effects. If so, what are they?  Whom exactly do they benefit, and can we measure the strength of that benefit?

Conversely, if there are no benefits from hate, how quickly is it being selected out of our population?

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 028

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 Seven
Questions?  (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.Do we have enough information to proceed? After all, the root of all intellectual progress is access to information. Preferably information in its purest form, untainted by emotion, political or hidden agenda, and unbiased by the filters of culture and time.

How much of what we need to know is available publicly? How much more is buried behind closed doors? Do we need that private information?
More to the point, what’s the least amount of private information we get away with? And if indeed we need that private information, what are the best ways to get it? Statistical sampling, inference, modeling, old fashioned guessing, or hidden cameras?
Perhaps in conjunction with our access to information there are some related questions to ask.

For example: Why has the subject of hate essentially been abandoned by academics? Is it too difficult to study? Are there no grants available in this area? Perhaps it’s considered easy? Trivial? Or subsumed by something much greater?

Whatever the reason, I’m comfortable making the statement that no institution offers academic degrees in the study of hate.

Have we gone far enough in compiling the questions we need to answer in order to understand what we need to know about hate?

Not quite. I’m not exhausted, and neither is our subject. Let’s follow the example of science itself, and build another layer of questions upon those we’ve already asked.  The good news is that there isn’t much that we can say with great confidence, therefore the rest of this chapter will be short. The bad news is that we don’t know that much, which is why I’m writing this book.

What we do know falls into several categories. We generally consider hate to be bad. Hate imposes costs upon society. What are they? Hate came from somewhere, sometime; it has not always been part of our landscape.

So when did it arise, and why? Only man has hate. Again, why? And how does this fact fit in with what we know about the evolution of our species?  Some people have had hate in their hearts and were able to eradicate it. How did they do it?

These are some things we know about hate. So, based on these meager facts, let’s see if we can drill deeper and compose a more specific set of questions to aid our understanding.

Let’s start with the idea that hate is bad. Why is it bad? What are the costs of hate to society? What about the cost to individuals?

If business, accounting, and economics have taught us nothing, they have taught us that everything can have a monetary value attached to it. So what is the annual cost of hate in dollars? What was it last year? Is it going up?

To be continued …

Aum Versus Om, Round 2

Little word with a big sound.How can something so simple become so contentious?

A while ago, I published a post about saying the opening sound for a yoga class in different ways.  Some people are very passionate about how they say it.  Great!

Then the other day I visited this fantastic exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  They have a special going on with treasures from Japan, highlighting the shinto aspects of their religion.  Very interesting stuff.

But what touched me most with respect to yoga was what they said about the entry statues to a temple.  In many cases there would be a dog and a lion.  You’ve seen the pair.  Very popular.  People even put them in front of their houses nowadays.

Typically they would be poised with one mouth open, one mouth closed.

Here’s the cool part.  They symbolize infinity.  One represents the beginning.

The other one represents the end.

Both of them are speaking.  They are uttering a single syllable.

The open mouth represents the syllable “ah.”

The closed mouth represents the syllable “um.”

Guess what happens when you put them together?



PS: I’m not making this up, this is from the CMA, a world-famous institution, especially for its Japanese collection.  Many of the items in this current exhibit are from Japan, and are designated as important cultural objects.  That would be like sending the US Constitution out for a world tour.

Oh, and this other excerpt is always worth checking out, from Bill Moyers site 
(go to the bottom of that page)

Hate, the book: 027

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 Seven

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

“Forget the past and you’ll lose both eyes.”
Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago part I, Page x (introduction).

Before we begin any journey, we must prepare in some way for the adventure ahead of us. The first step is the commitment to having that adventure. That decision was made in Part One, along with everything else that commitment entails.

Here we begin by first examining ourselves, what we know and what we want to know. We do this in the form of questions.

Don’t look for answers in this chapter, because attempting answers without fully understanding our own needs is premature, and leads one down the wrong path.  For example, countless people have asked why one group hates another group.

The only result of all that asking has been a multitude of useless books on the subject of hate. Those books contain no answers, only a smattering of facts, a lot of opinions, and yet more questions.

Thus it’s vital to create a complete inventory of questions to help us prepare properly for our enquiry.

This book is not an attempt to discuss hate as so many others have, but to advance our understanding of hate as a phenomenon of nature, our nature.

Of course, as we begin this chapter, we are making the rather fundamental assumption that hate is something we can study. That these questions we are about to ask can indeed be addressed.

But can they? Hate is talked about, it has an entry in the dictionary, and there are even books published with the word “hate” in the title.  Is it then such a stretch to imagine that hate can be observed “in the wild?”

Given that it can be observed, is it then a stretch of the imagination that it can also be defined?

As I said earlier, a good definition allows you and I to observe the same event from different perspectives. A good definition means that we will agree that this event was the same thing.

We can then go out and observe other events independently of each other.  If our definition holds, then you and I will always agree that we see the same thing.

Now that we have addressed the question of definition, let us go one step further: Can we measure hate?

At the moment this question seems ludicrous, but there is no constraint on the sensibility of questions in this chapter.  Perhaps you would argue that the very process of defining something is measurement in its most fundamental form – and you would be right.

Let me go one step further and return to our original question – can hate be measured in a way that’s more sophisticated than simple delineation?  Can we tell the difference between a small hate and a big hate?

To be continued …