Are you a minority or the majority, democrat or a republican, male or female, gay or straight, an Us or a Them? Every one of us belongs to several Us or Them categories. For example, I am a female, I am Black, I am a teacher, I am registered as an independent, I have a degree in biology, I love hiking and I could go on. Each of these things places me in cahoots with others that happen to fit into each of these categories and on a random weekend, I could gather with my brethren (or sisteren) and connect as one. This is one of those uniquely human things, as previously stated most animals have instinctive or sensory ways to identify their family but we humans do not. As such we can simply decide that someone is one of our people based on any criterion we see fit. The oddest thing about human grouping is the fact the sometimes the love, connection, and passion I feel for my group of people can cause me to devalue or dismiss the humanity in others completely.
It’s odd how important the role of love is in generating strongly ( and sometimes hatefully) divided humans. Yoda said it best; “Love is the path to the dark side. Love leads to fear. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering”(it’s almost what he said). I feel like this is what he really meant though, honestly. Anakin’s strong attachment and love for his mother and Padma created fear, anger, and eventually the hate that lead Anakin to kill all the younglings and skedaddle on over to the dark side. The value he placed on the lives of the two women he loved far our weighed that of all younglings, the Jedi, and anyone else in the galaxy. He did not care that there may have been someone who loved the individuals he destroyed. That they were someone’s children, family, or friends. All that mattered were HIS feeling and HIS people and he could justify even killing innocent men, women, and children to save his family. While most cases are not to that extreme a lot of human divisiveness is caused by love. It may sound twisted and sometimes it is, but the idea is that the love that I have for my family and my people gives them a higher value on my personal humanity scale. Think about it when the covid virus hit or any natural disaster like the snow and ice that recently hit Texas and other parts of the country, the stores were nearly cleaned out. Not really because we were about to be shut down for a month with no access to stores, usually it’s simply that we want to get as much as we can for our family just in case. People will stockpile waaaaay more than what’s needed and will even prevent others from having anything even something as simple as tissue just so we have 80 backup rolls. With no concern for how our ability to have more may prevent others from having any. Is that a true act of love?
The conclusion of that last paragraph gets to the heart of it; is this behavior an actual demonstration of love or a warped selfish take on it? Is this misguided expression of love due to not fully understanding what it means to love? In his book, The Art of Loving Erich Fromm states, “The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one’s narcissism…The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see other people and things as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and fears.” The idea that your family, friends, or group are somehow worthy, and others are not worthy, sets the stage for all manner of ills. Living with this type of mindset moves things beyond just categories of humans to Us being the ultimate measure for what’s good, wholesome, and holy and Them as a measure of what is wrong, bad, or evil. If other humans are unworthy or lower humans, as Social Darwinist stated, it is perfectly acceptable to use them as you, the higher more civilized humans, see fit. This mindset spawned slavery, genocides, and innumerable methodologies designed to implement human suffering. Growing past our selfish ego-centric ways and valuing all human life is the key.
“Among human beings, only the existence of those we love is fully recognized. Belief in the existence of other human beings as such is love.”
― Simone Weil,
This article is a part of a series focused on the analysis and origins of hate:
|1. What Is Hate? Published 01.14.2021||5. Social Darwinism Published 02.25.21|
|2. So, What’s The Plan? Published 01.21.2021||6. Selective Breeding Published 03.04.21|
|3. How to Make Mutant Published 01.28.2021||7. Us vs. Them Published 03.11.21|
|4. Don’t Take it Personal Published 02.04.21|
- Beck, A. T. (2000). Prisoners of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence (1st ed.). Harper Perennial.
- Fromm, E. (2006). The Art of Loving (Anniversary ed.). Harper Perennial Modern Classics.
- Sapolsky, R. M. (2018). Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst (Illustrated ed.). Penguin Books.
- Weil, S., Wills, A., Thibon, G., & Nevin, T. R. (1997). Gravity and Grace. BISON BOOKS.