Hate is as basic as love, and as ubiquitous. Like learning to love and love more, you can learn to hate too.
That hatred can be for a person, a community, or even a whole nation.
Fear drives hatred. Fear of the “other”, fear of the “foreign”, the “more powerful”, “more virile”, fear of all sorts. This fear is harnessed and used to generate and fuel hatred against “the other.”
We see hate coming out in full flow in riots and wars. But hate is quotidian too. It starts from our homes, our housing societies, our clubs, our formal and informal groups. I think it is safe to say that we see this across divides. The fear of the other weaponised in order to create foot soldiers in the War Of Hate.
Oftentimes, most of us keep silent when this hate is peddled. At dinner table discussions, tea shop gatherings, in schools, on family WhatsApp groups — we choose to look the other way.
Family and informal WhatsApp groups are increasingly the most fertile breeding grounds for bigotry. Every time you let someone get away with making a hateful comment, you allow more space for that virus. The comment might be intended to be a joke, but, and this is important, one can have jokes without propagating hate. This isn’t about being “woke” or politically correct, no. This is about the kind of a society you want to inhabit. Also, if you’re old enough to have kids and grandkids, it is about the kind of world you want to leave for them.
There are bad people in every group, whatever classification you use. That, though, doesn’t give anyone the right to paint that whole community with one single brush. Every human being is his/her own agent. As a thinking species, we can see and analyse things for ourselves, regardless of our socio-religious credentials. If that can apply to you and me, why not to a person from another community?
Hatred begets hatred. Violence begets violence. This everyday hatred that keeps simmering is what boils over in times of riots. Break this cycle. Stop this hatred. You and me and all of us deserve a world of love, not hate.
The agents of hate in our midst would keep distracting us. They’ll use whataboutery, fake news, and even instances of real, horrific incidents to convince you that x community or y religion is bad. Do not let yourself be swayed by that.
How to fight back against this, you say?
First, verify everything someone claims. Ideally, it should be their duty. But, if you’re going to internalise it, it is your duty to check it before doing so. If it is false, call it out. Let them know that you wouldn’t stand for it. Try convincing them that love is much, much stronger a bond than hate. Explain that a few bad apples don’t mean the orchard’s rotten.
Second, use both facts and emotional reasoning. To spread hate, our emotional response to fear is invoked. Use compassion and love to debunk myths.
We owe it to ourselves to do this, continuously, day after day.
Remember, the fight to overcome this normalisation of hate won’t be won tomorrow or the next month. It’ll likely takes years, if not decades, to win this.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be.
Even a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. 🙂
Image courtesy. Featured image courtesy: Myself.
What do you do when faced with bigotry? Tell me in the comments section.
Thank you for reading.