The Hate of the Mind

Hatred is a very strong, harmful emotion. An intense, extreme hostility and aversion, usually stemming from fear, anger or a sense of injury; hate is often used to cover an enormous range of feelings and situations.

The human mind is one of the most complex and captivating things in our universe. Shaping our personalities, our behavior through biological and social factors, unraveling nature’s mysteries, creating possibilities, the mind controls every bit of our lives. A complex blend of interwoven emotions, the human mind has achieved unimaginable feats. Things like flying in the air which were thought to be supernatural or Godly earlier are now unexceptional matters. The mind, which is not even tangible yet powerful, grows and creates every second of our existence.

Humans are social beings, living out their lives in the company of other humans. As a specie, we organize ourselves into various kinds of social groupings, such as nomadic bands, villages, cities, and countries, in which we work, study, play, reproduce, and interact in many other ways. The ways in which our minds develop are shaped by social experiences and circumstances, which differ according to culture, class, time and space. Ideal types and typifications formed in social interactions are intrinsic to the brain developing its model of the world. With the knowledge from this model, we interpret signals we come across in our daily lives. Our conscious experience of the world, therefore, is largely a prediction of what is about to happen next or, more accurately, what the next inputs are likely to be. This not only works for interpreting incoming data but it also drives actions and movements.

Michael P Kelly, Natasha M. Kriznik, Ann Louise Kinmonth and Paul C. Fletcher from the University of Cambridge explain this simply in their article, ‘The brain, self and society: a social-neuroscience model of predictive processing’ as

“the brain may be considered a predictive inference device, integrating both external and internal signals with prior knowledge in order to infer the likely causes of those signals and thereby to model, and ultimately regulate, the world.”

Thus, the performance of our actions, finds its genesis in the world we live in; whether those actions are good or destructive.

Hatred is a very strong, harmful emotion. An intense, extreme hostility and aversion, usually stemming from fear, anger or a sense of injury; hate is often used to cover an enormous range of feelings and situations. Although it may actually be an evolutionary adaptation despite being condemned by most of the religions and it’s teachings. But our modern societies have become much more efficient and deadly at expressing and fomenting hatred. The recent horrifying incidents of killings of three unarmed black individuals- George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor give a testimony to this fact. Even though racism has been outlawed and made punishable, the hatred on the basis of colour of skin still infested the minds of their perpetrators costing these people their lives. Over the last few years, India too has witnessed a fair share of hate crimes. Over 200 alleged cases of hate crimes were reported in 2018 alone against people from marginalised groups, especially Dalits as claimed in a report by Amnesty India. In the recent protests carried in various parts of India over the Citizenship Amendment Act, the country witnessed an extension of hate by many arrogant fundamentalists towards the minorities, especially Muslims. Blinded by hatred, even expressing dissent through peaceful protests was labelled as ‘anti – national’. Some lost their lives, many were beaten up and put behind bars, and most have still not been able to cope with the trauma.

Even during the COVID– 19 pandemic, “communal headlines” and “bigoted statements” in the media about Tablighi Jamaat members and Muslims, fanned hatred rather than concern. This is what hate of the mind does, once it takes root- it listens to no reason or emotion. In his confession, for instance, Gary Leon Ridgway, infamously known as Green River Killer said he’d committed 70 – plus murders because he hated prostitutes, though he never detailed why he hated them. The hate of the mind is not limited to taking someone’s life, but can even turn into sexual violence and other gory crimes. Also, it is not that the hate of the mind always expresses itself as some violent action; often it stays in the mind. This hatred of the people disguising as ‘genteel and woke’ is often spilled out in some discriminatory comments or gestures, but meant to be light – hearted and not to ‘offend’ anyone. Yet this hatred is equally dangerous as it may never hesitate to manifest itself into something cruel and gruesome.

Now, why call it ‘hate of the mind’ and not just ‘hate’? It’s because hate has no physical explanation or reason outside of the mind. Why would someone hate someone else whom he/she has never met? Why would someone hate someone else just because he/she is different? People are so much more than their race, religion, class, sex yet we allow this poison to ruin our lives. In the modern age, the persuasion to hate has become much easier, thanks to the development of communications technologies especially social media that enable hateful words and pictures to be easily disseminated far and wide.

Early 20th century, psychoanalytic pioneer Sigmund Freud, regarded hate as a normal, albeit unpleasant, byproduct of an individual’s struggle to maintain and preserve his or her ego in the face of civilization’s pressures. Psychiatrist and writer Kurt R. Eissler, argued that hatred is not only normal, but actually can be a positive tool for all of us. But the problem arises when the hate, which we allowed to grow and prosper, leads to incomprehensible things. Blaming and punishing the person in question is not enough, as the hatred found its genesis in the society and is still at large. Keeping care of what model of the world our mind is becoming accustomed to and normalized to is extremely important. Actions and words must be used responsibly.

We are in the 21st century and it is high time to rise above our pettiness and nurture every mind to reach its potential, before it is too late to repair the old wounds.

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Ipshika Ghosh