'Indeed indeed, I cannot tell,
Though I ponder on it well,
Which were easier to state,
All my love or all my hate.
— Henry David Thoreau
Of the list of things that I hate here are few of them: I hate fascism, I hate (hated) Osama bin Laden, I hate caste-ism, I hate racism, and I hate bullying. I like to believe that I hate them all so much that I would, if need be, fight against it. After all human evolution has allowed us the luxury of passionately disliking certain - for the lack of a better word- things and it would be a damn shame if we don't use this wonderful tool.
Hate has inspired poets, philosophers, artists, writers, thinkers and warriors for generations. All trying to figure out what it is, why it exists, and what we can do with it? Often used as an encompassing synonym for other negative emotion and commonly thought of as an appropriate antonym of another misunderstood emotion: love, it comes off as a villainous activity to indulge in.
Phrases such as: 'don't hate', 'replace hatred with love', and even the more eloquent, 'Hatred paralyses life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.' by Dr. Martin Luther King make us feel better but unfairly simplifies the emotion. I believe, like psychiatrist and writer Kurt R. Eissler, that hated, when used as a positive tool, can bring about necessary and welcome change. It was the hatred for whimsical dictatorships that ensured the Libyan's and Egyptian's rise against the decades long regimes of Gadaffi and Mubarak. It was the hatred of fascism that made young men and women from around the world fight against it in WW2. Such kind of hatred - constructive and essential- is what psychiatrist call noble hatred. Now imagine if all of us 'didn't hate' or "replaced hatred with love"
So, the problem with the emotion, it seems, is not the emotion itself but what that emotion is directed at. When hatred is misused and coupled with stereotyping and racism all hope for civility and respect fly out of the window. And in times of historic transformations respect and civility during dialogue regarding controversial topics is a must. As Nepal undergoes a transformation society must to talk maturely about important social and political issues without having to resort to angry racist allegations and calling each other hateful names.
As a reaction to real and perceived oppression, marginalized voices are finally speaking out. Instead of a stale singular narrative of what it means to be a Nepali and where we want to take this country, we now get multiple answers to some important questions. Issues of federalism, secularism, women rights, and the rights of 'indigenous' population must be discussed, and that they are being discussed is a welcome sign.
While these conversations have entered the national dialogue there is also a troubling trend of harmful bickering that doesn't help the situation. Case in point-the level of stupidity and racism at display on the internet in regards to controversial topics in Nepal. Take any political video clip on YouTube, scroll down to the comments section and start reading. You will find that there exists an amazing level of resentment in people for other people. Comfortably hidden in anonymity some people spew hate with such stylish idiocy and cowardice that their passion -genuine or not- comes off as ridiculous. The trouble with such venting is not the ineloquence of language but of thought.
However, hated of this kind is no laughing matter. The trouble with bad habits, Christopher Hitchen's wrote, is that they are mutually reinforcing. Hated mixed with stereotyping leads to anger. Demonizing people on the bases of ethnicity or race or caste is just a few steps away from using violence against them. Jews were demonized by the Nazi's and are demonized by Iran and racist TV shows in much of the Muslim world, the Muslims in turn are demonized by Hollywood movies and Zionist propaganda, the Pakistani's and the Indian demonize each other in movies; all of which help maintain hatred, which in turn comes in handy during times of war.
But why the hell, you might ask yourself, should I not hate those who have been mean to 'my people'? Why must the oppressed have to take the moral high ground? While caught up in the struggle of everyday life, faced with historic oppression, and confronted with discrimination these thoughts surely arise. Well, take a step back and reason with yourself a moment. Ask yourself who 'they' are, do all of them do the same thing, and should all of them be held accountable, are all of 'your people' in the same boat as you, what is it that you hate- the sin or the sinners, and would you succumb so low as to do to them what you would not have done to you?
Hatred for people, solely on the bases of them being in a group is perhaps the dumbest thing one can do as a member of our intelligent species. Suppose for a moment someone hates, and distrusts you and everyone from your community because Mr. X who happens to be from the same ethnicity as you treated that someone unfairly. Would that make sense? Would that not infuriate you?
Without any prior knowledge of it, I was born in Bahun family, and therefore, I am a Bahun, but to think of me as only a Bahun or to use my eccentricities as an example of all the Bahuns makes no sense. You can dislike me (though, I like to think I am quite likeable but… that's a different story) or rather what I do, but you cannot extend that hatred for all Bahun or any other Bahun for that matter. Now replace the word Bahun with Limbu, or Rai, or Chetri, or Afro-American, or White, or Muslims, or Jew or German or Madhesi, or Newar or Ghanian, or Chinese or any other group and the statement till holds true.
An important question to ask at this point would be: How did our society get here? Weren't we the land of Never Ending Peace and Love? Or was that peace and calm only a surface level façade hiding deep rooted mutual distrust amongst communities? What are the reasons for such hatred? And what do we do about it? If discrimination and caste-ism are the issues then let's get serious and fight against it. No reason to dilly-dally in accusations and counter- accusations. All this hatred if directed at the right thing can bring about positive change. Else this is a waste of time, and we all are fakes, pretending to be the solution while being the very heart of the problem.
It's easy to be loud and drown out other voices, it's also easy to say popular things and get applause, but it's far more difficult to say the truth and say it with logic and conviction. Unnatural levels of suspicion of the 'other' without knowing this 'other' does a disservice to you and the society you live in. Hate is a powerful emotion, and it's a tiring one. Reason with yourself before engaging in it. Further, if you find yourself hating someone, or something, or a group without reasoning check yourself. Call out others if their hatred gets in the way of finding a solution. Always be on the lookout.
So, dear reader, if you do decide to engage in dialogue, the choice is yours: you can either be a rational member of society engaging in meaningful conversation or you can spread hateful populism. If you choose the latter remember what W.H. Auden says "those to whom evil is done do evil in return." Hatred breeds hatred. In this fight between civility and unnatural stupidity it's imperative that you pick a side. What's yours?
A version of this article appeared in August issue of WAVE Magazine