Hate, the book: 050

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 Ten
If?  (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.As the millenia rolled by our species got better at finding food, shelter, and predators.  They discovered that caves made excellent dwelling places, that fire scared off predators, and that large supplies of food could be secured by targeting herds of animals.

Some 40,000 years ago, give or take, our ancestors began to express these advancements through what we now call Paleolithic cave paintings.

We are very lucky to have found and preserved some of these paintings today, as they not only provide a window into the distant past, they illustrate perfectly the point I’m trying to make about individual points of reference.

The artist who drew these paintings had to decide his position in relation to his depiction of the animals. Horses are charging, manes blowing in the wind.  A lion is leaping, a bison is lowing.

The artist chose the angle, the distance, and the moments in time for each painted animal before drawing them on the skin of that cave.  He had to choose his frame of reference.

More recently, within the last thousand years, artists have become more detailed and artistically expressive. In addition, they realized that they could control the frame of reference for viewers of their art.

When artists first took control over our frame of reference, it stood the whole concept of art on its head.  Did they want us on the outside looking in?  Or inside looking out?  Maybe it was better to be suspended in the air and looking down.  Their decision resulted in all viewers of their art as having the same frame of reference.  Modern painters took this concept and turned it on its head, literally. Take Picasso’s “Dora Maar.”

This painting depicts “Dora Maar” from multiple perspectives, simultaneously.  Picasso’s art can be jarring at first glance. But once you understand that he and artists like him are showing us the power of frames of reference, their works take on new meaning.

Now it’s time to venture beyond visual art in order to consider everything else we observe.  In all cases, our frame of reference is equally critical.  We absorb and touch our world from where we stand, in a specific point in time.  No one, no matter how close they are to you, can stand in the same place at the same time as you.

Even if they could, their experience could never could be the same as yours.  Each of us are unique. No one has the same memories as you, nor life experiences, nor family history.

In fact, given how different we all are, it’s amazing that we can agree on anything at all!

This concept of a frame of reference becomes a legitimate scientific tool thanks to Einstein.  What Einstein realized was that every observer is unique, and the universe will effectively bend around that observer in order to make all the other laws of physics behave properly.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 049

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 Ten

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

“If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…”
If, by Rudyard Kipling, 1895

Trusting me and trusting yourself is critical for our next step in our quest to understand and reduce hate in this world.  Trust is critical because we are about to explore a psychological landscape few others have ever dared venture.

There’s a reason for this.  The biggest is related to what we discussed in the last chapter.
Certain emotions, especially those related to hate, are so slippery and ephemeral that it’s hard to get a handle on them.  It’s like walking through quicksand – the harder you walk, the deeper you sink.

So for us to get through this journey in one piece, we’re going to have to pause for a moment. In this chapter we’ll catch our breath, consider what lies ahead, and then take inventory of all our tools. Keeping a cool head and making the best use of our tools will lead us to success, but since we’re about to pass through treacherous terrain, laser-sharp focus will be critical.

Of course, we won’t walk through physical quicksand, but in terms of our landscape analogy, there is metaphorical quicksand to deal with.

We’re about to explore deeper psychological considerations.  Not just traipsing through the mind, which is tricky enough, but we’re about to take things a step further by considering an individual’s thoughts, biases, prejudices and motivations as they relate to the subject of hate.

Clearly, trying to figure out any individual’s thoughts and motivations borders on the impossible.  But we must explore this dark swamp of our landscape.

In order to properly consider the best way to approach this terrain, we must assess it from numerous angles.  Where does it sit?  What do we see when we’re in it?

It’s critical to understand that the answer to these questions depends on who’s asking. You will see it one way, while I’ll see it in another. For you, it will sit in a space, while for me it will sit in another space.

We’ll both have a unique perspective of this ground, as we do with everything in the universe.

In technical terms, this is called a frame of reference.

This place that I see right now, at this exact point in time, this is my personal frame of reference.

Mankind has recognized and used frames of reference for thousands of years.  The best way to show what it is and how it’s been used is through actual examples.

Look up and around.  What do you see?  Since the beginning of mankind, we’ve asked ourselves the same question.

It’s been asked when it was time to find food, or shelter, or when seeking to avoid predators.

If we watch other members of the animal kingdom closely, we’ll see that they look around repeatedly.  They scan the horizon every time they move from place to place.
Just as important, they’ll also look around repeatedly even if they haven’t moved.  Why? Because they know the world around them may have changed.  That predator they’re on guard against may have been sneaking closer and is preparing to pounce.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 048

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 Nine
Is It Real?  (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.Consider the fact that both simply study different aspects that are unique to human beings. Remove any one person from the world and these aspects would remain.

But if our species were to cease to exist, every aspect of it, both good and bad, would be gone.

This analysis demonstrates unequivocally that we as people and our unique abilities represent another level of reality.

We must now dig into our landscape a little deeper to uncover a slightly different layer of reality.

We have seen how there is rock solid reality in a mountain, living reality in the process of life, and the reality of humanity in unquestioned aspects and abilities that set us apart from other animals.

But what about individuals?  Are the things that you and I do, as individuals, also real?
We tend to think so.  As I write these words, I believe that I am thinking real thoughts, that these concepts I am discussing are real and will help others, and what I do in life will make the world a better place.

You may well aspire to make a difference as well. But are our aspirations and desires truly real?

Let’s analyze this.

Imagine you are in love with someone. You most likely would consider this love to be real.

Now let’s say you had a dream and you remembered it.

So was that dream real?

Maybe you recently performed an act of kindness.  Good for you! But was this act real?
At some level all these things are clearly real.  We are all obviously present, and we are part of a family, a society, a species.

We do make a difference.  Nearly everyone would agree on this point.

So how do we prove it?  How do we show without a shadow of a doubt that what we do, what we aspire to achieve, and what we desire is real?

Consider love.  I love someone and I feel that my love is real.

Yet, if you were to remove me from this world, that love would disappear.  Something that is truly real should not be able to appear and disappear.  It should remain constant.  And therein lies the heart of our problem.

Hate, as universal as it may seem, does not exist in any life form other than man.

Furthermore, it does not exist in all men, only a subset.  If we had the power to eliminate the existence of everyone with hate in their hearts, the rest of humanity would continue on as before, only without hate.

The world would no doubt look very different if we could achieve this, but that is a topic to explore another day.

The point here is that hate resides in the deepest, most tenuous form of reality, the reality that exists only in the actions of individuals.

To understand this reality, we must continue digging into the landscape of the human psyche.

We have no choice if we want to define hate.

And hate, without doubt, is real, which of course means the level of reality where it resides is also real.

As we dig ever deeper, we may well make unexpected discoveries.  We might find, for example, that hate is in fact a by-product of more fundamental human characteristics.
And that would be a real find.

For the moment, however, we’re still stuck in our cave looking out at the surface aspects of our landscape.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 047

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 Nine
Is It Real?  (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.Consider that many of the elements and compounds that comprise a mountain can also be found in every plant and animal.

Yet we do not think of a mountain as a living thing.  It does not move of its own volition.  It does not ingest matter and energy.  Nor does it expel waste or reproduce.  These aspects are the basic elements of life and they are shared by all living things: willful movement, ingestion, waste, and reproduction.

These phenomena represent the next level of reality, the stuff of life.  Remove any one living thing, remove an entire species even, and this reality remains for everything else that continues to live.

Life and living are unquestionably real. They have been part of our universe for millions of years, and likely will continue to be for millions more.

So how do we study the stuff of life? We already do in segmented fashion, and we give those involved in these studies specialized names like biologists, geneticists, ethologists, and botanists, to name a few.

Regardless of their area of specialization, they clearly study the same thing; life and what makes it possible.

That’s exactly what we’re doing. But what makes our study of the aspect of hate in life unique is the fact it’s brand new – so much so that there is no generally accepted label for us (maybe one day there will be, like “hateologist”).

So we must blaze our own trail, and our next step toward that end is to dig beneath the surface of our metaphorical landscape of the human psyche to find this second layer of reality.

As we do, we discover that our next task is to examine the actions of Homo sapiens, the current example of our species.

Is there any doubt that people are real? Of course, as living beings, we are as real as any tree, fish, or tardigrade.

Yet as people we consider ourselves to be on a higher plane of existence than any other living thing. What, then, is it about our species that makes us unique?

For one, we have created a complex society. We are capable of amazing technologies. We can create tools and use them to construct objects of incredible complexity.  No other animal can do that.

We can also record, transmit and convey information far more efficiently than any other animal.  We are able to communicate with extreme sophistication, and our minds are capable of pondering deep, complicated questions.

All of this and much more sets us apart from the rest of the animal kindom.

Are these great abilities that differentiate Homo sapiens from all the other animals real?
There is no doubt in my mind.

There are countless students of language, technology, and art throughout our society, and few would argue that what they study is not real. Some may argue that the social utility of an art historian is somewhat less than that of an engineer, for example, but those are trivial details.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 046

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 Nine
Is It Real?

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

“I have endeavoured to show in considerable detail that all the chief expressions exhibited by man are the same throughout the world. … No doubt similar structures, adapted for the same purpose, have often been independently acquired through variation and natural selection by distinct species; … [yet] it seems to me improbable in the highest degree that so much similarity, or rather identity of structure, could have been acquired by independent means. … It is far more probable that the many points of close similarity in the various races are due to inheritance from a single parent-form, which had already assumed a human character.”
Charles E. Darwin, “Expressions,” Ch XII p361.

Up to now we’ve been discussing hate in basic terms. We’re clarifying the concept of hate, the first necessary step in creating a definition we can all agree on.

Returning to our landscape metaphor, where our landscape represents the human psyche, in a sense we’re studying the mountains, trees and rivers of human emotions to improve our understanding of hate.

Now it’s time to dig a little deeper.  We must clarify something that seems obvious: reality.  It’s natural for us to think that everything we study is real.  But that’s not necessarily true.  There are people who claim to study phenomena that have no basis in our reality, like ghosts, extrasensory perception, and predicting the future by reading tea leaves.

We don’t want our study of hate to be considered a study of something unreal, as is the case with the above examples.  So how do we prove we’re studying something real?
We do so through methodical reasoning.

Consider our landscape of the human psyche.  We see on the surface that it has mountains, rivers, trees and more.  These are all physical objects we can personally verify.

We know a mountain exists because it’s visible.  We can go to it, touch it, climb it, and see it from many sides.  We can also verify the existence of this mountain through other people who have personally verified it.

Historical record is another sound verification tool.  We become confident that something, like our mountain, is real because it’s common knowledge and accepted by all that it’s existed for ages.

When you can show that something physical has existed for long periods of time, no one can doubt its reality.

Mountains have existed long before the appearance of mankind.  No one questions this fact.

Our forefathers have measured them, as have their forefathers before them.  Physical, immutable objects like mountains are the most basic type of reality.  To be a student of something as clearly self-evident as a mountain means that you do not have to convince anyone of the seriousness of your research.

Tell anyone that you study mountains and no one will laugh.

There is another level of unquestioned reality besides physical matter, and it’s based on life itself. In terms of our landscape, it lies slightly beneath the surface.

To be continued …