My mother used to tell me a story about two kingdoms when I was a child. The kingdoms were good neighbours and existed peacefully for a long time amidst beautiful and flourishing flora and fauna. But one day, one of the kings planned to attack the other. He attacked, won, and swiftly killed the captured king and his family. One son, however, escaped. After some decades, the son, now a young man, gathered his troops and attacked the king who had killed his father years ago. He won and ensured that no one remained alive from that family.
Few of the loyal subjects of the now murdered king gathered troops and attacked to regain their lost kingdom. This act of attack and counter-attack continued for decades, destroying both the kingdoms, its people, and lands. Legend has it that the place where those kingdoms once existed is an open desert today.
Mother used to conclude saying this is what hatred does to us. It keeps gnawing at us until everything is lost.
While the story was to teach us some values, we can’t agree more that this story finds so much resonance even today. Everywhere we look, attacks and counter-attacks in the name of religion, nationalism, pride and other ego-driven logic are sucking the world dry.
Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat.
-Henry Emerson Fosdick
Genesis of Hatred
It helps to understand what hatred is all about, so we know how to handle it. Ancient medicine believed in delving into the root cause of a problem to treat it while, sadly, today’s world only attempts to treat the symptoms.
So let’s do it the ancient way. Let’s understand hatred. Hatred is like the peels of an onion, and it is the outermost layer; not the innermost. If we peel off the outer layer called hatred, we will witness the emotion ‘anger’. If we peel off ‘anger’, we will witness ‘fear’, and fear is the base emotion. An example would best explain the layering of emotions.
If I fear a threat to my religion from others, then I would be scared of these others. This fear then turns into anger against others for coming after my religion. When anger ferments enough, it turns into hatred. And that is the genesis of a negative spiral.
From the example, it is clear why hatred attracts hatred. If I fear for my religion and therefore hate others, I may attack others, but in doing so, I create fear in others about me. And what happens next? The other person will also go through the same cycle of fear of being attacked and so will harbour anger until anger turns to hatred. And then this vicious cycle spirals and achieves a life of its own.
Having dissected hatred, so to say, let’s understand how hatred manifests. We will look at hatred under three heads:
- Spiritual Context
- Real-World Occurrences
Over the last few decades, a concept called ‘law of attraction’ [LoA] has gained prominence. The law states that ‘like attracts like’.
If we look at ‘hatred’ in the context of LoA, we will infer that where there is hatred, more would follow. Therefore the more we hate, the more there will be the conditions and situations that would be presented to evoke more hatred.
If we give it a thought, it does not seem out of place. Isn’t this what we experience every day as we wake up in the morning? Depending on how we start our day, we seem to find more situations stoking similar emotions. A good day gets better, while a bad day gets worse. This notion of a sequentially tied experience is what led to the age-old question – ‘which side of the bed did you get out of?’ It is also not a coincidence that there are so many gurus teaching positivity, so many YouTube videos showing us how to start a day, and so many life coaches emphasising the need to start a day with positive and happy thoughts. Would there be any need for such teachings if the basic premise of like attracting like was not acknowledged? We would be in a position to better appreciate this subject with a few real-world examples.
2. Real World Occurrences
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to his disciple. “For all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
Since the tragic loss of life in 9/11, the world stood in solidarity for the souls lost in the world trade centre’s destruction. Sadness and anger engulfed the world. The world, led by America, embarked on a war on terror. The expectation was to avenge the dead and make it even. Is everything back to normal now? It’s almost eighteen years since the war on terror started, do we see more of bloodshed or less of it? Statistically, in 2001, there were just two countries in conflict under the ‘war on terror’ aegis, but today more than nineteen countries have drowned in the war against terror; and more are joining. See, LoA in action? The more we focus on the ‘war on terror’, the more terror will come forth to keep us occupied in war. Hatred spawns hatred.
So, am I suggesting that we should take everything lying down? Let’s look at history to answer this question.
At the peak of the second Iraq war, the world felt that the Iraqi leader had to go for his atrocities. The leader was caught and later hanged. Peace had to follow. But did peace follow?
No. We saw the emergence of a much cruel group called ISIS. This cycle was like the mythical hydra of modern times – cut a bad situation, and twice-the-bad would emerge. The situation deteriorated so much in such a short time that the then President of the United States admitted that it was their action that led to the emergence of the group. This is just one of many examples in history where hatred attracts hatred.
To conclude the discussion, we will look at one of the quotes of Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa was known for her charitable work in India. She was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and was also declared a saint by the church. So, why are we discussing the Mother? Here’s why.
Once Mother Teresa was asked why she didn’t participate in anti-war protests, and she replied that she would never do that. She went on to add, but as soon as they had a pro-peace rally, she would be happy to join.
See, the point? It seems Mother Teresa understood LoA or at least, she understood not to stand for a negative idea. Does it not make sense that it is far better to enter a pro-peace rally, attracting more pro-peace situations than an anti-war rally, attracting more war. There is a lot of wisdom in what Mother Teresa said!
Our discussion ranging from the spiritual to the real-world experience shows that, indeed, hatred attracts hatred. The good news, though, is that the LoA works for every emotion. So, if we want to experience peace, let’s drive for peace!