Overcoming Presets for Hatred
Posted on 15 June 2016
One hundred years ago much of the world was embroiled in WWI. The war was sparked when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg were assassinated. A nationalist organisation in Serbia, who were unhappy with the take-over of Bosnia-Herzegovina, took matters into their own hands and one of their members shot down the Austrian royals.
At the time European imperialism was creating serious international tensions. Nations had pre-set plans for dealing with who they expected to go to war with in the near future. A certain fatalism that war was inevitable pervaded the European continent before the first gun was shot. The assassination was used almost as an excuse to settle old scores, as nations went to war with one another simply for having alliances with others who had alliances with either Austria-Hungary or Serbia.
Ernest Hemingway wrote: “World War I was the most colossal, murderous, mismanaged butchery that has ever taken place on earth. Any writer who said otherwise lied, So the writers either wrote propaganda, shut up, or fought.”
In the end you had the peoples of nations fighting other nations simply because they were frightened and coerced. Just point them at an enemy and all their fear and frustration could find vent in murderous endeavours. The pressure to conform and join the bloodbath was tremendous, with people shaming or outright beating and killing anyone who refused to participate.
Today we are also experiencing tremendous pressures which are setting off those who are particularly emotionally and mentally vulnerable. Though many are in denial, they are still terrified that we are living in the end of days due to environmental devastation. The increasing divide between the rich and poor, and all the disempowerment that entails, is creating a swirling mass of frustration.
Racism and classism are rampant within both the left and right of politics.
The right is working to keep you ashamed and under control for not being them. Something is considered wrong with you if you are non-caucasian, non-straight, non-Christian, and non-wealthy. It can look like the power brokers on the right will let you in their club, provided you are wealthy enough. They do an excellent job of marketing that vision, but it is a lie. Nevertheless, fearful people wanting to fit in somehow, in order to physically and emotionally survive, may take desperate action to show they belong.
Many people in the Western world have never met a Muslim or a gay person. And yet, they are ready to harrass and kill these people because they have been told “Muslims and gays are the problem”. Somewhere in their heads they think: perhaps harming these people will make me feel safer, perhaps harming these people will put me in the club of those people who live a more secure existence.
People on the left who are living securely are finding cunning ways to submerge the expression of their own fears in order to appear intellectually in control, and thereby add to the problem. Instead of identifying their fears concerning Islamic extremists, some will choose to be anti-theist in order to disguise racism. Others will send money to the poor in other countries, but make sure their children go to wealthy non-integrated schools. They will justify their treatment of poor whites, because those people are racist, sexist, and violent. The poor are further dehumanised by the label “white trash” and are publicly humiliated by the media as some how deserving of our hatred. If they were smarter, worked harder, had some sense, we are told, they wouldn’t be on society’s lowest rung. But where is the help and where are the steps to pull them out? At least the right give them a dream of escape (while stabbing them in the back). Rationalised fear is still fear. You can make things like eugenics sound logical when its application is wrong, wrong, wrong.
When we hear about mass shootings, we should definitely be sad and upset that so many innocent people were senselessly killed. We should also think about how we were complicit. How did the shooter become so frightened and so angry that they felt this was a solution? Did we do anything to ensure their physical security? Did we do anything to address their emotional distress? Did we show them any compassion or acceptance before things got out of hand? Just like WWI these people hit out at an easy target for hatred, without that target having anything to do with their suffering. This of course keeps us all locked into a cycle of violence.
We have to learn how to care about each other, we have to do some radical sharing, we have to cooperate, and we absolutely have to learn how to co-exist. Otherwise, none of this will stop. Take a long hard look in the mirror and start choosing better.
Peace and kindness,