Hate, the book: 088

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 Sixteen
Catch the Conscience   (Continued)

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

So what has our discussion about age gained us?  Only that our three actors represent three different levels of understanding relative to each other.  Tango is lowest, Oscar highest.  Each higher actor understands the lower actors.  Each higher actor will also have a better understanding of what happens and why things happen.  In terms of our play, the older actor has a greater understanding.

It is here that our concept of an actor’s age must be abandoned, because in so many real-life scenes the actors may be of any age, or no age at all.

Take the case of hate where one government works to destroy another.  What then should we use in place of age in a macro-level example of such hate?

We will use “levels.”  An alternative way to describe whether someone is above me in “age” would be to say they exist on a higher level.  In our play, Oscar sits on the highest level, Sierra on the middle level, and Tango upon the lowest.

Three actors, three levels.  That’s all we need to describe every situation of hate.  More will be said about levels and how they can help us understand hate much better than we do today, when we deal with each of these areas in greater detail.

Audience

There is one final aspect of our play that must now be considered, and it’s as vital as any other.  Strangely enough, this last component is usually neglected in traditional literary discussions.

But this is no frivolous literary deconstruction, for our stakes are much higher: the elimination of hate in our world.

So then what is this final component that will help us achieve this seemingly impossible goal?

It is the unseen, unmentioned, and unappreciated audience.  It’s me.  It’s you.

Whether we sit in a theater and absorb some artistic energy for a few hours, or read this text line by line, in aggregate we are an important component to understanding hate.

Why is that?

Because it is the audience that Oscar will report to when all is said and done. Oscar’s report may only be to his wife, but she is still the audience.

She is the audience here because she was not present when Sierra pushed Tango.  Oscar must relate the event to her as best he can, but of necessity many details will be left out.

We, as an audience to any hateful expression, must realize that our information will always be insufficient.  We can never know everything about it because we weren’t there.  We must rely upon the insights of an observer, or observers.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 087

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 Sixteen
Catch the Conscience   (Continued)

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

Levels

There is one final characteristic about our actors that I have purposely ignored until now.  That characteristic is their relative ages, and this is vitally important in aiding our understanding of hate.

The actors in our play are comprised of one adult, one child, and one toddler.  This is enough information so that, as adults ourselves, we can instantly comprehend the mental states of each of them at any time.

We know the toddler, Tango, is of the simplest mind.  Even the concept of harm is foreign to him.  He knows the love of his parents, the pleasure of a full belly, and the pain of a fall.  There are a few other mental states Tango has mastered, but we know from personal experience that his is a simple and untouched mind.

Our adult, on the other hand, has been affected and molded by decades of hard experience.  We can be certain that Oscar has seen great pain, and great pleasure.  He knows some of nature’s most intimate secrets, both beautiful, and ugly.  And he has created his own set of explanations for why his universe works the way it does.  Clearly, Oscar represents the most sophisticated mind in our play.  As such he can easily comprehend everything going on inside the mind of Tango.

What of Sierra?  She represents more of a mental challenge to Oscar because she is a child not far removed from adulthood.  As such, hormones are coursing through her, creating urges she’s never experienced before.

Oscar can still comprehend Sierra’s mind, but it’s more challenging than Tango’s.  After all, Oscar also went through puberty, but it was many years earlier, and puberty affects everyone differently.

Which finally brings us to Sierra as our single focus.  She is on the borderline between child and adult.  She knows fairly well what goes on in the mind of Tango, for she is still partially child.  At the same time her body is budding toward adulthood, a process that always inspires and terrifies.  She may understand Tango, but she is having trouble understanding herself.

And, for the final step in our evaluation, her ability to appreciate or fathom what goes on inside the mind of Oscar would be incredibly difficult.  She’s only beginning the process of going into adulthood and barely understands herself, let alone other adults.  So it is safe to say that Oscar’s mind is beyond Sierra’s grasp.

What of Tango? Is there any chance he can divine the minds of either Sierra or Oscar?  Impossible. Not only are the mental states of both so far above him in terms of complexity and experience, even the very concept of “other mind” does not yet exist for him.

It will be some time before he realizes that he has his own mind, and that it can be understood as an object on its own merits.  Tango is in an ideal place, his mind is understood by all, and on his own he understands nothing.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 086

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 Sixteen
Catch the Conscience   (Continued)

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

Discerning intent within our source is vitally important.  In many cases where hate is present, this is not so difficult.  In fact, many sources can be quite open about their intentions.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t refine our own tools so that we can be absolutely sure of what someone intends when they exhibit harmful behaviors.  There is one other aspect to determining Sierra’s intent, and that is how long her desire to harm Tango may have lasted.

For instance, if Sierra had indeed wanted to harm Tango, but only for an instant, does that count as true intent?  Does that mean hate was present in her heart in that instant?
Perhaps one day it will be shown that harmful intent must be proven to exist in a person for at least a day, or a month, or even a year before we can consider it true hate.  In our story, it’s likely that Sierra’s thoughts of hurting Tango didn’t exist a moment before the fateful push, and it’s just as likely they didn’t exist a moment afterwards as well.

Does that mean hate wasn’t present just because it existed for only a moment?  Of course it was present.  The fact that we now have a way to measure it on even the smallest of time scales is a good sign.  We know that Tango is as yet incapable of hate, and we would like to think that Oscar is also incapable of hate as far as his children are concerned.

The optimist in all of us also likes to imagine that as mature adults, brother and sister will love each other as siblings.  Yet the truth is that hate comes and goes.

While this fact should be accepted and appreciated, the challenge you and I have is how to understand and confront the type of hate that comes, stays, and causes great harm throughout the world.

Okay, back to our play. Besides intent, actors and background, what else is either relevant, or should be ignored?

What about the setting?  Should it matter where our characters sit, in place or in time?

Absolutely not.  We’re looking for steadfast characteristics of hate that transcend mere details such as time or place.  Our observations should be the same whether our family is huddled around glowing embers in Medieval Europe during the plague, or playing on a sunny island beach centuries before Europeans arrived in their ships.

This family should be exactly the same as today’s family regardless of the time period.  It makes no difference what they were doing.  Whether they are watching large screen movies in the US, or fasting during Ramadan in the Middle East, it doesn’t matter.

Finally, looking back on our characters, it should not matter if the parent were a woman, and if the children were simply children.  None of them even needs to be related to any of the others.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 085

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 Sixteen
Catch the Conscience   (Continued)

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

Let’s give Sierra the benefit of doubt for now.  Maybe she didn’t mean to push Tango.  Maybe she had a muscle spasm and is ill.  Or perhaps she saw a spider and was clumsily attempting to swipe it off his shoulder.  Or the push could have been part of a game they were playing.  A game that only Sierra was playing.

In fact, it may have been a behavior that they performed regularly.  That would help explain why Oscar was able to easily prevent Tango’s fall, wouldn’t it?

No it wouldn’t, and making assumptions like these represent the hidden danger in any analysis of hate.  We must actively refuse to admit “uncontrolled” biases, motives, and other environmental factors into our study.

We must focus on what exists at that moment.  Sierra pushed Tango.  And the intent was harm.  As soon as we start playing the game of looking for mitigating circumstances to explain behavior, we would be entering a forest of confusion from where there is no escape.

The best way to recover from being lost is to not get lost in the first place.

Intentions

Here’s a problem.  Did you notice it in the previous paragraph of possible, but rejected, reasons for Sierra’s behavior?  I’m saying we have to avoid imagining what’s going on inside someone’s head to explain their actions.  Yet we must determine “intent.”

How is it possible to discern intent without getting inside the mind of the source of hate?  Solving this problem represents one of the tougher aspects of analyzing our play, and every other scene of hate we encounter.

Figuring out intent means learning what Sierra really wanted at the moment she pushed Tango.  How do we do this?

Our first play is perfect for this task because it illustrates several fundamental issues in their simplest forms.

What of revealing her intent?  Isn’t her action enough?

Probably not, for as we suggested, perhaps she was simply attempting to brush a spider off her brother’s shoulder, or maybe she is ill.  We could ask her why she pushed her brother, but that doesn’t mean her answer will reveal her intent.  She may not even have an answer.

As any parent knows, it’s very difficult to get clear answers from your children.  Ask her why she pushed Tango and she may not even remember having pushed him.  Worse yet, we could phrase the question poorly, leading her to answer in a way we want to hear.
I’ve often observed parents doing exactly this with their children.

It goes something like this: “Sierra, don’t push Tango.  Don’t you love him?  Don’t be a bad girl!”  Of course she loves her brother, but she may have still wanted to cause him some damage.  And who said she was bad?  So now, through our adding potential reasons as to why Sierra pushed her brother, we’ve placed a considerable burden on her young mind, yet discovered nothing about her intent.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 084

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 Sixteen
Catch the Conscience   (Continued)

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

The philosopher enjoys this conundrum because it forces non-philosophers to face the question of presence.  If no one is there, and I define “sound” to mean vibrations hitting my eardrum, then the tree makes no sound because there is no eardrum to be vibrated.  But if I define sound to mean vibrations created by an energy source, then yes, of course sound is present.

As observers of hate, we stand in that same forest, and hate is our tree.  For us, an observer of some kind must be present in order for us to say, “Hate exists.”  The expression of hate must vibrate our eardrums, so to speak.  In our play, the observer we need is Oscar, the father.  Like most fathers he dotes on his children, wanting what’s best for them.

Let’s consider the number of actors in this play for a moment.  As mentioned earlier in this book, it’s evident and all too prevalent for us to find evidence of self-hate.  Imagine this extreme scene now, from the perspective of our first play.

A young woman stands in front of her mirror, first thing in the morning, disparaging her appearance and wanting to change.  She feels her lips are too thin and pale, her nose too big, her eyes too small.  She wants to hide her features, surgically change them, or spirit herself away from all who know her.

She is hating herself.  In this state of self-hate, she is both the source and target of hate.  They are now equally represented, just as Sierra and Tango represented source and target of hate in our little play.

Now imagine further that our young lady realizes the harm she is doing to herself.  In that realization, she steps away from the mirror and begins to appreciate her own worth as a person.  Feeling better about herself, she decides to face society without a speck of makeup.

In that observation of self-hate, she has now also fulfilled the role of observer.  In fact, during her solitary little drama, she assumed the roles of all three components required for hate to exist: source, target, and observer of hate; just like Sierra, Tango, and Oscar.
Three in one, easily done.

Later we will discuss a method that will help us organize all the possibilities this condition creates.  For now, let’s admit the possibility that a single actor can play more than one role.

We ignored bias and motivations and background in our story, and we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Here’s why; when we add backstories to our hate plays, we unnecessarily complicate the issue without helping to clarify matters.

Trying to understand why Sierra pushed Tango does not help our understanding.  When you read the play, did you want to know why Sierra wanted to harm Tango?  Perhaps he had hit her a moment before.  Perhaps he’d hit her the day before.  Maybe he’d broken her favorite toy, or smiled at the wrong time.  Or perhaps she is jealous of her father’s affections towards Tango and was symbolically pushing him out of the family.

To be continued …