As a society, we rightfully discourage hatred. We view hate, depending on the circumstances, as a devolution toward primitive animus or the psychology of a disturbed mind. Legally, actions already deemed unacceptable—for example, assault or murder—receive consideration for stronger sentencing if their motivation stems from hate.
The Southern Poverty Law Center maintains the “Hate Map,” an online record of active hate groups in the United States. As of last year, 932 groups appeared on the map, at least one in every state, including nine in the District of Columbia. Texas had the most with sixty-six. Rest assured, no matter who you are, there is a group out there somewhere wishing the worst upon you.
Spinoza, in the Ethics, explains that hatred is the evidence of pain caused by something outside ourselves. Therefore, since the object of a person’s life is to achieve happiness, and happiness can be defined as the removal of pain, one should seek not to hate. For although one cannot deny one’s hate, one should supplant that emotion with a stronger one, be it love or honor or something else that emphasizes one’s pleasure.
Before him, Aristotle surmised hatred as a lust for destruction, and idea the Fruedians would pick up on later, the ego expressing negative desire. Psychologically, hatred is believed to be rooted in personality—an inward drive not necessarily resulting from stimulus but a filter that distorts said stimulus.
Current neurological studies confirm this, revealing independent flare-ups in five areas of the brain when a person experiences hate. This activity hinders the brain’s ability to accurately view, store, and apply information. The idiom “blinded by rage” is truer than we realized.
In the famous “Stanford Prison Experiment,” Philip Zimbardo demonstrated that people are easily capable of legitimizing their hatred to please authority. People will adapt to their circumstances and allow another’s hate to become their own, regardless of their previous psychological makeup.
Crackpots weigh in on hate too. René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French holistic healer, believed that hatred should be seen as a disease, a corruption of a person’s “life force.” However, this disease could be cured through the body’s natural inclination toward strength and wholeness.
Hatred, you see, is weakness. Infusion with uncorrupted life energies—in his thinking, plant oils and the like—would overpower a person’s weakened life force and leave one hate free. Universally, whether through science or sorcery, this is the goal.
The Buddhists see their hate as a selfish desire to be sloughed off the others on the path to nirvana. The carpenter makes it a condition for the ol' quid pro quo, “if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you.”
Throw a dart at any random page of a religious text, a self-help book, a psychiatric manual, or even the Boy Scouts’ Handbook, and you’ll find the implication that letting go of hate will make you healthier, wiser, happier, and just an all-around better Joe. And, to be blunt, they’re all right.
Fuck it. I still hate Tennessee.