Hatred is fake love. It is an easy way to get some of the benefits of love without the hard work of managing one’s emotions.
Everyone wants to survive and thrive. For mammals the best time of their lives was when they were cubs or pups. At that time there was one or maybe two other creatures that cared about them just because of who they were. Food and protection were provided. This kind of caring is called Maternal love if only the mother is raising the cubs, and Paternal love if the father is involved. The beauty of parental love is that the cubs don’t even need to love back. All they need to do is learn the life lessons that the parents are teaching.
Deep inside of all of us is a desire to get back to that time. We all want to be loved the way our parents loved us or should have loved us. We want to receive love and the only thing we need to do in return is to survive and thrive. That kind of love makes us feel safe and safe releases the pleasure hormones. We want to be loved. We don’t necessarily want to love back. Loving someone in return, is work, and work is tiring. Giving love in return for love is something adults do. Our inner beast is not an adult.
As humans mature they learn that to get love they need to give it. They make friends and form little packs of friends. Packs are not equal relationships. Often a lower status person needs to give more affection to the higher status person than they receive. It’s still worth the trade. It’s not ideal; It’s not always pleasant. It still provides some of the feelings of safety that we desire so strongly. Except we all know that it may not be real. People are very good at cheating each other in the loyalty exchange. Knowing that at any moment a person with whom you think you have a partner relationship or a pack relationship may be lying and cheating you out of your love and loyalty is stressful. It takes away a lot of the benefit of being in a pack or a partnership.
Leaders of packs know why people have joined the pack. They want a sense of safety that comes from togetherness. Togetherness is a weaker version of love. Togetherness is a long way form love but it still feels good. Sometimes very good.
Hate is a powerful emotion and easy to elicit. All negative emotions are more powerful and easier to conjure than their positive counterparts. It’s because they are safer. Death is forever whereas life can end at any time. If you are unsure, the negative is always safer. Fear is safer than trust, no is safer than yes, pessimism is safer than optimism. Negative emotions come easily.
If you are trying to be the leader of a pack and you want to keep them together you need to overcome the bias towards negative emotions of your pack members. Your pack members are there because they want the feelings of safety and security that come from the mild form of love known as togetherness. Your pack members are also are programed to prey on each other and to assume that other pack members see them as prey. They are not wrong about assuming others see them as prey. It is safer. Teaching people to love is hard. It is even hard when people believe in eternal consequences which few people do. The easiest way to overcome negative emotions is with stronger negative emotions. Even people who hate each other will work together when faced with a common enemy. The easiest way to overcome the propensity for pack members to hate each other is give them an enemy outside of the pack to hate.
To manipulate their pack members into working together as a team smart leader use hatred. They teach them to hate people outside the pack. This is usually easy to do. Sometimes this hatred is as explicit as a World War I propaganda poster. Usually less so. When people hate those outside the pack they don’t necessarily like those inside. They may still see them as prey. It feels like togetherness though. It feels a bit like the love that we all desire so deeply.
Getting people to love is difficult. There is a spectrum of love that for convenience can be divided into four levels. There is love of self, love of ones own offspring, love of those who are near and last is loving those who are far. It is difficult to believe but there are people who have trouble loving themselves. There are also people have trouble loving their own children. This behavior is not confined to humans. The animal kingdom also has its share of bad parents. When I was a child, I remember a farmer describing one of his cows as not being a good mother to her calf. I remember it because it was shocking to young me that there could be such a thing as a bad mother. Lots of people who love their own children deeply, have trouble loving people who are not their children but near them. Just as nature provided instincts to love ones own children, nature has given instincts to love siblings, sexual partners and close friends. Intimacy stimulates bonding. Almost everyone has trouble loving people who are far from them.
I didn’t put parents on this list of people nature helps us to love. I’m not convinced that nature gives us much help. If it does it is only a little. We care for parents because we are humans who have a sense of obligation to those who came before us. It is why there is a special commandment to honor one’s parents. There is no need for a commandment to love ones children or friends.
Getting people to love those who are not family and friends is the most difficult thing to do yet, it is the most necessary. At this point the English word love fails us. In English love is always a feeling. It also always carries very high expectations of behavior. The Hebrew word for love, Aheb, (from whence comes the name Ahab) has a broader meaning. It can mean to love a lot. That is why the command to love God. It can also meant to treat fairly. That is the meaning in Leviticus.
“When a foreigner resides with you in your land, you must not oppress him. 34You must treat the foreigner living among you as native-born and love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”Leviticus 19:33-34
Hebrew often uses double statements to express and reinforce meaning. In this doublet ‘not oppressing’ and ‘loving as native born’ are roughly equivalent. The meaning of the Hebrew Aheb versus the English Love is not important. What is important is the concept. Use any word you like to mean the spectrum of behavior that goes from not oppress to care the way you would care for your own children.
Even this low low definition of love that includes not oppress or treat fairly, is too much for many people. Every leader who has ever tried to keep a group of people together knows how hard it is to keep people in the group from preying on other members of the group. Every leader knows that if people prey on other group members the group breaks apart. A broken group is a smaller and less powerful group. A smaller and less powerful group makes the status of the leader go down.
That is why leaders so often resort to tricking the emotions. They use hatred and fear. It is a way to get people inside the group to treat insiders well or at least not badly. They convince them to hate people outside the group. Hatred is an easy emotion to conjure and it is very strong.
If someone is encouraging you to hate someone they are likely manipulating you. This is true of all of the negative emotions. When armies train their soldiers they teach them to hate the enemy. The enemy is always referred to in a pejorative. The enemy is evil, whereas we are good. The enemy lies, whereas we tell the truth. This is necessary. Soldiers are being trained to work against their own self-interests. They need to be trained to risk, and occasionally sacrifice, their lives for the cause. Very strong emotions are needed to overcome the other strong emotion of self-preservation. If someone is using strong emotions to convince you of something they likely want you to do something that is against your self-interests. Soldiers are often okay with this. In the absence of propaganda they will do it themselves.
If you are not a soldier in a war and even if you are, you should be very suspicious of people who use negative emotions to convince you. The odds are good that they have their interests at heart, not yours.
Teaching people to hate comes with risks. They may decide to hate the person who taught them to hate. One of the things that often happens to movements based on hate is that they break apart as soon as the common enemy is gone and even before.
Hatred is fake love. It is an easy way to get some of the benefits of love without the hard work of managing one’s emotions. It is like taking drugs to get energy instead of doing the hard work of eating healthy, getting exercise and proper sleep. Like drugs it works well in the short term but in the long term is destructive to the people who use it.