On Hate


Hate is an important human emotion that needs to be analyzed and understood if we wish to avoid or eliminate it as a negative force in human life and society.
Scholars and philosophers, psychologists and (evolutionary) biologists have discussed the phenomenon.
Hate is an intense and extreme form of dislike in which we wish to harm and/or destroy that which we hate.
We dislike an entity (person or thing) for one of two reasons:

(a) We fear it will hurt and harm us, and cause of our own end.
(b) We feel uncomfortable with the framework and symbolism which the person or thing represents because it is very different from, and even appears to be threatening to, our own framework and symbols. So long as the entity in question is not a serious threat to us, we merely dislike it. When the threat becomes, or appears to be, too close to being
actualized, the dislike evolves into hate.
Given that hate has great potential for harm and hurt, both to the target and to the source, it is important to make every effort not to be overcome by it. Some of the steps that may be taken to accomplish this:
(a) Try to understand why the target of our hate is trying to harm us. If there is a legitimate reason for this, try to minimize or eliminate the cause of the opponent’s hate. As a wise man said in ancient times, “Take care no one hates
you justly.”
(b) If there is no legitimate reason, try to persuade the target that we have no
intention or desire to harm it.
(c) Recognize that it is not impossible even for mutually incompatible frameworks and symbols to coexist in harmony, as along as there is mutual respect and understanding.
Since fear of being attacked is deep-rooted biological, hate is a natural instinct. Its opposite, namely love (of the stranger and the different) is not as natural. This is perhaps why many religious systems preach explicitly and often that we should foster our capacity for love.

August 29, 2002

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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