A popular colloquialism is that hatred is born of fear. I’m not certain that I agree with this completely. To me, most hatred originates with weakness. It’s an outward manifestation of a person’s problems onto a scapegoat. It’s a lazy way of directing anger.
Not long after moving to my present location I took what was by far the worst ass kicking of my life. My wife and I were at a local bar of dubious reputation and what started as me trying to help a stranger fend off four attackers ended with me on the ground, trying to cover as much of my wife’s body as I could while about a dozen people, male and female, tried to stomp me through the floor.
After making our escape and returning home, that night I said some of the most hateful things that have ever come out of my mouth. Aweful slurs that I’m ashamed to recall. I was angry, concussed, and would have been equally vitriolic towards any other race or commonality that my attackers shared.
I felt weak. Not only had I failed to help the original victim but my wife was placed in a dangerous situation where I was unable to protect her. Thankfully no impressionable ears were around to hear me and the feelings faded not long after the stars I was seeing. It made me realize how easy it can be to fall into prejudicial behaviors.
It was weakness that led to the founding of the KKK by six former members of Confederate Army shortly after the end of the Civil War. The “total war” strategy of Generals Grant and Sherman had laid waste to the farmlands of the deep south. Per capita income had dropped to less than 40% of that of the north.
The weak needed someone to blame and rallied around hate.
The Third Reich gained power in much the same way. Prior to WW1, Germany was a global empire. Their subsequent defeat and signing of The Treaty of Versailles left a humiliated country devastated and economically responsible for reparations. The Nazis turned this weakness into anti-Semitism and hatred for all who didn’t belong to their “master race.”
History is filled with similar examples. Directionless people given purpose by directing their anger towards war, genocide, atrocity. Weakness replaced by hate.
The horrific events of this week have left us all heartbroken, scared, and wondering why. What drives a person to systematically gun down complete strangers?
I believe that the answer once again lies with the exploitation of weakness. A generation of middle-eastern youth have known nothing but conflict and poverty their entire lives. Their leaders hold onto power by handing them weapons and pointing west, redirecting anger away from themselves. They grow up fed on hate and propaganda.
This is in no way an attempt to excuse. These people will claim their reward in hell and every effort should continue to be made to send as many of their accomplices there to meet them as we can find. Understanding the etiology of a disease and attempting to eradicate it are not mutually exclusive.
But lets not condemn an entire region and its people. Let anger turn to bigotry and racism. That sort of hatred is born of weakness. We’re supposed to be better than that.