If fear leads to anger, then it makes sense that anger leads to hate. It is, after all, a more intense version of anger. But if you look up “anger” in a thesaurus, “hate” does not show up as a synonym. The two words have subtly different definitions.
Anger is defined as a strong feeling of displeasure aroused by a wrong. This implies that in order to feel angry, one must feel they have been slighted in some way. Perhaps something was taken from them, or they were prevented from obtaining something else. Maybe they were insulted, watched a loved one endure some sort of pain or felt cheated. Regardless, anger is brought about by an external influence. As we explored previously, this can also be due to a feeling of fear.
Hate, on the other hand, is to feel extreme aversion for or hostility toward someone or something. Its definition implies that this feeling is not something that simply bubbles up in an emotional flare, but rather a sentiment that has a more permanent, or at least longer lasting effect. It is applied not just in one moment but over several instances to scenarios that, in the eye of the hater, are similar enough to warrant the same sentiment.
“From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.” – Socrates
What exactly is it that causes anger to evolve into hate? Indeed one must be so angry, for so long, that hate could even have the chance to grow. Real, honest hatred is a difficult feeling to maintain. We use the word casually. “Oh I hate when that happens,” or “don’t you just hate that?” These uses detract from the true meaning of the word, almost normalizing the sentiment.
It’s a dangerous step to take considering the consequences hate brings to our lives every day. Historically hate has been bred and used as a tool for the greatest social manipulations. Especially when its benefit is to those who could not obtain public support any other way. When either an individual or group determine they want something so badly they will use any means necessary to obtain it, it is often through manipulation of hatred they finally achieve their goal. Sadly this applies to political parties, religious groups, social advocates and individuals alike. Instilled with fear, motivated by anger they commit acts of hatred. Sometimes without even recognizing what they are doing. Worse, sometimes they know exactly what they are doing.
Now that the term “hate crime” has its own legal definition, it has changed the way we look at acts of violence toward other people. At times I’ve considered this a disservice to violence across the board, because violence could be considered an act of hate no matter what the situation. However, after more thought, a hate crime is a very deliberate, targeted act which requires more than just an emotional outburst. It is also directed at a particular set of criteria like sex, age, race, etc.
“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is fear.” – Ghandi
Still, while an act so deliberately intended may be committed out of hate, at its root, it is manifested in fear. What would happen to a case identified as a “fear crime” instead? Fear is an emotion, a reaction we can all relate to. Hate is not. By social standards we relate fear to feelings of helplessness, to victims who are afraid of their aggressors. If we were to associate fear with those committing heinous acts, it would mean we too would be capable of acting in such a manner. Without doubt, none of us want to be associated in such a way. So, in turn, we lean toward hating the aggressor for his act. Hate breads more hate.
How then does the cycle stop? Imagine the shift in perspective it would take to look at an individual committing an act of violence toward another human being, and recognizing their fear first, not their hatred. It would have to begin with first recognizing our own fears and relating them to those of the attacker. How is our fear different than theirs? Obviously, it begins with being afraid of particular things. While some people may not agree with a gay lifestyle and are afraid of the culture, their fear is not so overwhelming they are motivated to act. Clearly others are so afraid of gay culture they believe it will destroy their very livelihood, possibly even society as a whole. Where do these beliefs come from?
They come from a thought process that is taught. From generation to generation it is handed down like an heirloom. Just like racism, traditions rooted in defense against change are passed along from parents to children. To prevent the cycle of hatred from continuing, it is required of one party to step outside of it. That means taking steps not to reciprocate hatred, but to take pity on those overcome with an institution of fear.
“I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.” – Booker T. Washington
If we truly mean to overcome hatred, we must strike at its roots of fear. The only way to do that is to educate, educate, educate. I stated in a previous post that fear will never go away. It all comes back to learning what to do with it.