Overcoming Hatred 

Overcoming Hatred

Like so many others, I'm sure, I watched the television coverage of the September 11th attacks on the Wold Trade Centre with horror, with sadness for the thousands of victims and their families, but also with a certain sense of the inevitable unfolding.

After decades of US interference in the Middle East and the developing word, America was being made to pay for its successive policies of intolerance, vitriol, xenophobia and meddling. And yet, the attacks also made me feel hopeful in some ways. At last, I optimistically [if not naively] assumed, the US would begin to reconsider its attitude towards the rest of the world. Surely these attacks would make the American public and its leadership rethink their policies. The act of being targeted in this way, I reasoned, would make the United States question what it had done to so offend another group, that they would choose to attack them in this way. Perhaps this would finally inspire the US to rethink its arrogance, and the post-9/11 world would see the US taking the lead in creating a new approach towards politics and foreign affairs.

Of course, my optimism was sorely unfounded. In response to September 11th, the US increased its intolerance and violence. And in so doing, it has laid the foundation for it to be even more hated and vilified.

This came to mind again recently whilst reading M.G. Vassanji's The In-Between World of Vickram Lall. The first part of the book is set in colonial Kenya, during they early days of Mau Mau. A family of settlers in Nakuru are slaughtered in their home by the Mau Mau, and while this terrifies the settlers in that town, it does not make them rethink their attitude towards the black Kenyan population. If anything, it exacerbates their racism and intolerance. Watching this, the novel's “radical” Indian character, Uncle Mahesh, says of the British colonisers: “They'll never learn. Arrogant bastards. . . and they say they don't understand why they are hated.” The same could be said of the Americans today.

His comments also reminded me of a recent opinion piece in the Weekly Telegraph by Nonie Darwish. In “We were brought up to hate—and we do,” Darwish describes the hatred and intolerance that characterised Egyptian society in the 1950's. He describes the same intolerance and hatred for the other that the American leadership also tries to rally. Reflecting on this, he comments, “Is it any surprise that after decades of indoctrination in a culture of hate, that people actually do hate? Arab society has created a system of relying on fear of a common enemy.”

In the Middle East that Darwish describes, in the United States, in Zimbabwe today and throughout the world, the same system is being used. To indoctrinate and terrorise a population into submission, a common enemy is created and vilified. How then do we escape this? The solution is not to create yet another enemy, to redefine the terms of hatred and generate more fear and intolerance. As Audre Lorde wrote in Sister Outsider, the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. We cannot overcome hatred with hatred. We need to develop a much more courageous, difficult and principled stance. Each of us, as individuals and organisations and communities have to resist the easy route of blaming and labelling and bad-mouthing. We must look much deeper, into our own humanity and the humanity of our friends and so-called enemies alike. Rediscovering our own inherent worth, and challenging the branding of “the others” is no simple task. But finding this intrinsic commonality is among the most radically transformative we can take as human beings in this world. It isn't easy. But it can be immediate. It starts in each of us, in our own hearts, homes, streets and communities, sharing our own stories and listening compassionately to one another's.

Technorati Tags: Bush, Hatred, Politics, Racism, Zimbabwe, Zimbabwean Blogs

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Comment What an amazing post. I feel exactly the same way about this use of fear mongering and hate to condition the people. For the Americans in the Middle East unfortuantely i think this one has broken the camels back and it will take generations to bridge the gap ( if they are foolish enough to invade Iran this will take even longer). For us in Zimbabwe I think there is a little hope still. Hopefully the liberations war generations will soon begin to fade from the picture and allow a different society to emerge

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