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Why Do We Hate? - October 17, 2005

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Why Do We Hate?

Greetings, citizens of Saint Lucia.


Have you ever hated anyone? Do you think it is right to hate? Can you cleanse yourself of hatred?

There can be no doubt that hatred is an extraordinary and powerful human emotion. It is as old as human existence. It has thrived through successive waves of human civilization and is alive in our so-called modern world.

But what has kept hatred alive, well and thriving? It is many things. For one, there is a great deal of resentment among cultures, races and religions. Such resentment occurs when cultures, races and religions attempt to assert dominance over others. Naturally, such resentment thrives on differences and becomes a powerful tool that can be effectively used to breed hatred. Differences reinforce divisions. Worse yet, differences are used as a basis for discrimination and exclusion. Hatred, in its most dangerous form, occurs when violence is used to reinforce differences. It has led to incredible destruction of human life.

Just think for a moment.

Sheer hatred led Adolph Hitler to murder over six million Jews during the Second World War, a mere sixty years ago. Hatred was part of the creed of Hitler. He exhorted the German people to “hate and again hate.” He advised them that, “ The lesson of life is to hate and be hard.” Hatred led to the conflict in Kosovo, in former Yugoslavia. Ethnic hatred led to the systematic slaughter of nearly, one million Tutsis in Rwanda by the Hutu majority. Who can forget the humanitarian crisis which was unleashed in the Liberian civil war all because of hatred? There too, thousands of innocent individuals died because of ethnic hatred. And even today, in the Darfur region of Sudan, hatred rooted in ethnic and religious differences has given rise to genocide - the systematic, arbitrary, deliberate killing of over one million persons. In all of these instances, barbarism consumed people who had previously lived peacefully as neighbours. They succumbed to the temptation to slaughter without compunction, without remorse. They yielded to savagery.


No one is immune from the temptation to hate. Hatred is everywhere. It is alive in our homes, our businesses, our places of work, in our offices, clubs, in our neighbourhoods and on our television screens.


Even religious personalities hate. Some priests, pastors and believers hate, all in the name of their faith and the God that they are supposed to worship and honour. Never mind the golden commandment, “love your neighbour as yourself.” Some profess their faith on the one hand and hate with the other hand. Of course, many of them say that it is the politicians who cause, nurse and encourage hatred. Politics is responsible for the hatred in our midst, they preach. Yet, many of them are its sponsors in their sermons, teachings, utterances and the advice they choose to offer.


Of course there are politicians who hate. Some are so hell bent on securing power that they gradually become consumed by their hatred for their opponents. Then there are others who have faced repeated rejection by the electorate, who are unable to accept the verdict and resort to hatred of the individuals who they think are responsible for their rejection. They become bitter, personal and venomous.

Unquestionably, politicians are the easiest targets of hate. They are the easiest to blame for misfortune. Someone loses a job, or is required to proceed on retirement and the reaction is hatred for the individual who they hold responsible. Some of it is understandable. It can’t be easy if it is difficult to feed your family. But even if it is understandable, should you hate?

I can share with you many personal encounters with persons who hate. I can tell you of many experiences since my entry into politics in 1996 and until now. I can tell you about those who shout, “ messieur c’est un chien” or “ moin hayi h’omme sa la.” So too can my colleagues. So too can other politicians. But today is not for this. Another time, another place.


Some among us deliberately nurse and encourage hatred. Some of us thrive on it because we believe it is one way to annihilate our opponents.

Just look at the behaviour of some of the people in our media.

Some media practitioners use their craft to nurse injured feelings to encourage hatred. Just watch, sometimes, the body language, the contortions of expression, the abuse and disrespect, the venom with which points of view, masquerading as opinions and healthy criticism, are expressed. The tools are subtle but on occasions quite blatant. Sometimes we dismiss it all and describe it as “entertainment.”


All kinds of explanations have been offered about the phenomenon of “hate.”

One of the most incisive speeches on “hate” is a speech by Vaclav Havel, the former President of Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic. In his other life, he was a dissident and a playwright. Havel argues that the people who hate “harbour a permanent, ineradicable feeling of injury, a feeling that is out of proportion to reality.” In their subconscious “there slumbers a perverse feeling that they alone possess the truth, that they are some kind of super human or even God, and thus deserve the world’s complete recognition, even its complete submissiveness and loyalty, if not its blind obedience.” He surmises, that “ People who hate wish to attain the impossible and are consumed by the impossibility of attaining it.” They never see the cause of failure in themselves, but in their eyes, “ it is the surrounding world that is to blame.” They are all people “ with a complex based on the fatal perception that the world does not appreciate their true worth.” All haters, says Havel, accuse their neighbours – and through them the whole world – of being evil. “The person who hates is unhappy because whatever he does to achieve full recognition and to destroy those he thinks are responsible for his lack of recognition, he can never attain the success he longs for.”

Sometimes, fear can feed hatred. It is a point made by the political historian’ John Lukacs. For examples, if you fear a political party because you could lose influence, wealth, privileges or access, then such fear could ignite or induce hatred. Hatred can be so irrational.

The great danger of hatred is that it can cease to be a matter of the mind. Hatred can, and often leads, says Lukacs’ “ to physical inclinations, to physical acts,” and ultimately to death, destruction and as we have seen to genocide.


There are two areas of human activity where hatred is insidious, evil and dangerous. The first is religion.

In the case of religion, hate is a blatant mockery of the faith we profess. It is dangerous because its messengers make us believe that it is driven by moral imperatives that are ordained, prescribed by the God we strive to honour and obey. In other words, some justify their hate on the basis that they are acting in the service of their God.

From the beginning of time religion has been used as a weapon to spread hate and distrust. Many wars and acts of violence have been committed in the name of religion and in defense of faith. There are countless examples. We have had the reformation and the counter-reformation. The Catholic Inquisition in the 16th Century claimed thousands of lives. In Northern Ireland, centuries of bitterness and religious animosity between Catholics and Protestants have claimed many lives. Sectarian hatred caused the deaths of 3,636 persons between 1966 and 1999. Most of the victims were innocent civilians. Likewise, centuries of hatred and distrust between the Jews and the Palestinians have produced war and carnage. Today, religious, cultural and political differences have placed radical Islam and the Christian West on a collision course. Religious violence is sometimes unanswerable to human reason.


Equally insidious is the use of “hatred” to muster political influence and support. People who are driven by hatred see no logic, adhere to no reasoning and justify violence as their creed. Politicians who encourage hatred will eventually pay the price, because those who they nurse in hatred will eventually turn on them. Hatred consumes not only its victims, but eventually, those who hate.

But do not misunderstand me.

Let us not confuse political competition with hatred. I believe in political competition. I believe that citizens should be offered political alternatives. I believe that we must create an environment where citizens and political parties can engage in robust, and yes, fierce and passionate argument and debate. I believe we can do all of those things without hating each other. To think otherwise, or do to do otherwise, is to pave a path to tyranny, intolerance and tribalism. We must not allow ourselves to be consumed by the fire of hatred.

One thing is clear. We cannot and must not fight hatred with hatred. True, when hatred produces war there is no other choice but to reply in a like manner. Otherwise, hatred must be fought with tolerance, understanding, reasoning and peace. So, let us renounce hatred. Let us disown the messengers of hatred in our midst.

Goodbye now. Until next week, God bless and take care.


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