Love Is NOT The Answer (To Hate and Terror)
There is a lot of hate in the air nowadays. When I look at international news, I can still feel the lingering heat of terrorists attacks in Europe, the civil war in Syria and other armed conflicts in the Middle East region. Hate speech and crimes seem on the rise in different parts of world, even in the so called “free” societies. In US, it does not help when Presidential candidate openly peddles on fear of “the others”, be it religious or ethnicity.#Blacklivesmatter still has a haunting echo until now.
When I look into domestic scene, similar sentiment hovers, although probably less bloodied. It is not uncommon to see on social media the mudslinging against political candidates, and the favorite narrative now is religion or ethnic. Don’t vote for that guy, because he is not of our faith! He is from ‘the other’ ethnic. He will be a threat to all of us!
When there is action, there is reaction. I notice also the rising counter movement against the hate and terror. One oft cited theme is: LOVE. I would see memes and inspiration videos talking about how even more important “love” is in today’s atmosphere of paranoia, hate, and terror. Love is all you need. Love is the answer. Love your neighbors. All you need is love. Love those who are different from you. Love conquers all. Etc, etc. So many love-themed inspirational quotes going around.
I used to follow this common logic without question. It almost becomes a common social heuristics. If hate is strong, shouldn’t the cure be its antithesis, i.e. “love”? When people are hatin’, then surely the solution is more lovin’? When you hear people preaching hate and evil, try to outloud them with message of love and peace. Right? But the other day, I stumbled across a movie quote that made me rethink. It was an old familiar quote to me, but somehow I read it anew in light of today’s situation.
The quote belongs to Yoda, that popular little green Jedi Master from Star Wars universe (No, the OTHER little green guy is Kermit the Frog – different universe!) The quote originally referred to Yoda’s remark upon encountering the child Anakin Skywalker, accurately foreseeing how the young child would follow the path to the Dark Side (and become probably the most popular and recognizable movie villain of all times!) Nowadays, this quote is just a fanboy obsession with the epic.
There is simplistic linear logic in the quote that goes like this: Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Now the anger-hate-suffering sequence is easy to see in today’s news. You see so much anger boiling. Angry at people of other religion, colors, ethnic, ideology. The anger is followed with hate – and when hate manifests in words and actions, we end up with suffering. Hate becomes offensive cartoon, racist remarks, burkini ban, and suicide bombs – and innocent people suffer. So far so good.
But it is actually the FIRST word that got me thinking again. FEAR.
I never realized the link between fear and anger, when it suddenly hit me that they are indeed connected. Think of the campaign used to radicalize people: they often begin by exaggerating “threat” to one’s religious or cultural identity. Beware, everybody else are after you! They want to destroy your religion and way of life! They want to drink your blood! That’s why your have to rise up and join [INSERT RADICAL ORGANIZATION/POLITICAL PARTY HERE], so you can blow yourself up/spray bullets to fight them.
Think of racism and religious discrimination in politics and economics. It often began in FEAR. People are made to fear that [INSERT ETHNIC/RELIGION/OTHER SOCIAL GROUP HERE] will try to steal their lunch, dominate the economy, enslave them, etc, etc. Beware of those people! They will push you out of the economy! They conspire to make you starve! Don’t vote for a leader of their kind!
Think of the hatred towards those considered “different”, like LGBT group. Notice how the narrative at the beginning is based on fear. “Beware, those people want to convert you! They are preying on your children!” And once you seed fear towards this group, the next step is to make people angry at them out of feeling threatened. Even if there was really no actual threat. I have gay friends and colleagues all the time, and the reason I enjoy befriending or working with them is exactly I do not feel the slightest fear of them.
And when people were successfully made to fear other people, the easy next step is to make them angry. Stir them up a little. Throw in some fiery, twisted religious texts or patriotic jargons, and you get an angry bunch. And from anger, the path towards the Dark Side is even closer. To hate. To suffering.
What if “love” is never the answer? If “fear” is the beginning of the dark path, maybe what we need to counter hate and terror is actually: “courage”?
I just thought of cute little children whom we praise because they are kind to or helping out some strangers. We may think, “Aaaawww, look how thoughtful and caring and kind that child is.” But if the child was afraid of the stranger to begin with, he wouldn’t make the first step towards him in the first place. Yes, care for others may compel one to act, but it was courage that allows love and care to blossom. When there is no fear, one feel free to approach the other.
Mother Theresa is undeniably a great loving personality. But I would add to that a very courageous person too. It takes great courage to plunge oneself into such demanding social service, in a society that does not share her faith.
Love is important. But when we want to fight suffering that comes from hating, and stop hate that comes from anger, maybe what we need to do is prevent FEAR from taking root.
Do we want children who can resist radicalization? Teach them courage and confidence. Courage that no one can steal their faith or destroy their principles, if they truly believe in them. When one no longer feels afraid about his own faith, it is harder to make them angry at other people’s religion.
Do we want children who are not racist? Then teach them courage and confidence. Courage to work hard and shape their own destiny. Confidence in their own ability. When one no longer feels insecure and afraid of their ability, it is harder to make them angry and jealous at other people’s achievement.
Do we want children who love? Maybe we need to stop scaring them with fiery hell, and instead, teach them the courage to create paradise on this planet, for all mankind, right here, right now.
Love is nice, warm, and cuddly. But to counter anger, hate, and suffering, you want to nip fear in its bud. And love may not be the answer to this. Courage is.
Categories: Random Insight