In our oh-so-polite society, hatred is a dirty word. Admitting that you hate would be akin to admitting that you are the product of an incestuous relationship. You would be treated as unclean, as undesirable, and someone to be avoided at all costs. Others would feel themselves to be superior to you and treat you as an outcast. But here is the truth about hate; it is the default human emotion and those people who saw you as less than human would in turn be displaying their hatred. I should emphasize that the word “hate” has a spectrum of intensities, from mild annoyance through to the desire to kill.
We hate because, above all things, we are primarily interested in our own survival and power. Others, and particularly unknown others, present some level of threat, be it direct or indirect. Leopardi states it very well:
The self-love of man, and that of any individual of any species, is a preferential love. That is to say, because an individual naturally loves himself as much as he can, he therefore prefers himself to others, therefore strives to outdo them as much as he is able, and therefore, in effect, the individual hates other individuals, and hatred of others is a necessary and immediate consequence of love of oneself, and, because self-love is innate, it follows that hatred of others is innate in every living being.Leopardi, Zibaldone
Polite social occasions provide a perfect venue for hatred to appear, usually in the form of seeking dominance. Polite bragging; we’ve just returned from our holiday in the Caribbean, we’ve just moved to a very desirable location, our property is worth such and such (more than yours), our son is going to the best school, and so on. This is a form of hatred; what else could it be when one person is trying to diminish and dominate another? In a less polite environment, physical violence might occur if one man is seen strutting his stuff more than another. Corporate life is nothing but a pit of hate with ambitious individuals desperately competing with others for a promotion; and all the vicious politics.
So life is dominated by hatred, and what makes it much worse is the fact that people cannot be honest about it. In fact, quite the opposite, we paper over the hatred with charm ( an inoffensive way of causing harm), with pretended affection, polite gestures, and painted smiles. It’s this inability to be honest about our hatred that is the most damaging thing. If it were out in the open and well understood by most people, society might be a more rewarding environment.
Hatred is primarily concerned with protecting one’s own territory or encroaching on that of another. By territory, I do not only mean physical territory but also ideologies, national identity, religion, and even the football club you support. These are all valid grounds to hate the other person.
Religions and spiritual traditions have tried to address our natural inclination to hate, but it has been a truly dismal failure. Loving kindness, love thy neighbor, just don’t cut it when the real emotions underneath the pretty wrapping are just bursting to get through. More obvious is the fact that millions have died in religious wars—hatred at its most potent.
The hypocrisy in society will not change since lying is a fundamental strategy in the whole of nature. To reveal hate would be to reveal the truth, and in many situations, this would be disadvantageous. Even so, there is some relief for those willing to contemplate the reality of our existence, in simply understanding the dynamics of hate. The end result might be the decision to have as little interaction with our truly smelly society as possible.