Photo: Al Jazeera

By James Tot Mathiang

How do people learn to hate and how does hate overtakes the human conscience?

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

March 4, 2023 (SSNA) — Human beings have socially constructed gender, race, religion, and ethnicity, which are followed by certain principles and norms that become sources of hate. When left unchecked, unchecked hate can become a part of a person’s identity and can lead to the desensitization of other people’s feelings and emotions. People learn to hate through various forms of socialization and reinforcement, such as tribal values, the media, and peer pressure. In addition, hate can be reinforced through negative experiences, such as bullying or discrimination. It can also be fueled by fear of the unknown, or by a desire to distinguish oneself from others. This can lead to a feeling of superiority and can cause people to justify their hateful behavior.

Apart from the above factors, I would like to discuss the following factors: race, gender, religion, and ethnicity. These are all factors that can lead to a feeling of superiority. People may feel that they are better than someone else because they belong to a certain race, gender, religion, or ethnicity. This can cause people to make negative assumptions about someone else and can lead to a feeling of hatred. Furthermore, these negative assumptions can be reinforced through negative experiences, such as bullying or discrimination.

Women vs men: A woman who married an abusive man sometimes sees all men as her enemy, though other men know little about what is happening in her family. This is because she is likely to project her feelings of betrayal and hurt onto all men, regardless of the individual. It is a form of defense mechanism to cope with the trauma she experienced in her marriage. Yet, it is important to recognize that not all men are the same, and some may be able to offer her an understanding, caring, and supportive connection.

Another source of hate is race. A culture of hatred can be developed within our homes and kids can learn to hate or love in the family environment. This can be seen through the development of stereotypes that children learn from their parents and guardians. Once those stereotypes are embedded in their belief systems, it becomes difficult to unlearn them, and they become a source of hatred and prejudice towards people of different races. For example, a black man who has endured racial discrimination at school or at work might end up hating all white people. However, the racial discrimination that is happening at his work or school is an isolated case that has nothing to do with all white people. This is because those negative stereotypes become a lens through which the person views all people of a certain race. This is even if the individual has had positive experiences with some members of that race. This creates an “us-versus-them” mentality, with the person believing that all members of a certain race are the same. This can lead to feelings of intense hatred and prejudice, which can be difficult to unlearn.

Religion is another source of hate that can create deep divisions within a community or country. People learn to hate through the beliefs they are taught at a young age by their parents, guardians, and peers. Religion can amplify this hate, as it can provide an ideological framework for people to justify their bigotry and discrimination. Religion can also create an us-versus-them mentality that can lead to extreme conflict. For example, in the aftermath of 911, turbans or hijabs (veils) became a symbol of hate and fear in Western countries just because the people who attacked the United States were Muslims. On the one hand, those who died on September 11th have nothing to do with American politics, but they were killed simply because they were Americans. This created a sense of fear and mistrust among many people, which led to hate crimes against Muslims and other people from the Middle East who looked similar. This kind of prejudice and discrimination can cause deep divisions in communities and lead to even more extreme forms of conflict. Therefore, Nelson Mandela stressed that “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

Last but not least ethnicity is another dangerous source of hate, especially in third-world countries. The two known genocides that were the result of ethnic hate are the Rwanda Genocide and the South Sudan genocide. In 1994, the Hutu majority committed one of the most outrageous genocides of the 20 century. This was due to the fact that the Hutu majority felt that they were being discriminated against by the Tutsi minority, who had political and economic power. As a result, the Hutu majority decided to take matters into their own hands and target the Tutsi minority with violence and genocide. The Hutu carried out a brutal killing of their rival tribe Tutsi, which resulted in the death of an estimated 491,000 to 800,000 Tutsi. The other similar genocide that was the result of ethnic hate and violence is that of the South Sudan genocide. A few years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA-2005) was signed, rival politicians began to promote ethnic violence to achieve their political ambitions. On December 15th, 2013, the Dinka tribe carried out a well-planned genocide against their rival the Nuer the second largest tribe in South Sudan that left over 20,000 Nuer civilians dead in the capital city of Juba, and tens of thousands of the Nuer displaced to the UN Camps and neighboring countries. This was in part due to the lack of trust between the leaders before the CPA-2005, as they failed to address the underlying issues of tribal conflicts, equal opportunity, and security. This had the result of creating a power vacuum between the two tribes, leading to political leaders exploiting the situation to gain power. Leaders were able to manipulate the situation to their advantage as a result, further weakening the structures in place.

To sum up, Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. This quote emphasizes the importance of love and understanding in order to overcome hate and prejudice. He was advocating for a peaceful resolution to conflict, rather than trying to use hate and violence to fight against it. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” In that sense, people must not hate each other just because they are of different races, religions, genders, and ethnicities. Martin Luther King Jr. was advocating for the understanding and acceptance of people from all walks of life. He believed that only through understanding and love could people come together and create a better world for all. He argued that hatred and prejudice only further divide people and create animosity, which does not lead to any positive change. His philosophy centered around promoting compassion, acceptance, and understanding of all individuals, regardless of race, religion, or background, in order to build a more equitable society.

The author of this article is a South Sudanese-born Canadian citizen. He has a BA in Global Development Studies, and a Post Graduate in Psychology- specializing in Mental Health. A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation, and Mental Health Partitioner; a Certified Pharmacy Technician. You can reach the author at [email protected].

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