Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Who Hates You?

I saw this sign on a church on my way to work this morning:

My first thought was that it was a clever reverse approach to the multitude of “message from God” signs so popular locally –

“We need to talk.” – God
“My house on Sunday – hope to see you there.” – God
“How ‘bout introducing me to your friends?” – God

My next thought was more interesting:

Why is it that so many of us, individually and as groups, define ourselves as much by who hates us (or who we think/believe/hope hates us) as by who and what we actually are?

Christians preach about how they’re hated by “the world” for their commitment to Christ. Pagans rail about how they’re hated by Christians for their alleged assignations with the devil. Jehovah’s Witnesses love the notion of being hated by all other Christian sects for their departure on points of theology. Toss in liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, gays and straights, vegans and omnivores, Redskins fans and Cowboys fans…the list is endless. It’s part of the personal identity for some people.

Why do we do that? What is so compelling about defining ourselves by our perceptions of disapproval, distrust, dislike, distaste, and disrespect? What is it about being “dis’ed” that we love to identify with?

Any thoughts?


  1. This behavior makes no sense to me at all.

    Maybe it's because the USian culture like to define its boundaries with the negative?

    "You can't do this or something bad will happen." It's this mentality of justice, consequence and punishment that define proper behavior. If there isn't the threat of someone hating you, disapproving of you, then there would be no reason to act properly.

    What if, subconsciously, people translate that into, "If someone doesn't hate me for a certain classification, then I can't be right." If you classify Them as stupid wrong-heads full of spite and dumb, then if They hate you, you're automatically superior because they're mentally deficient wastes of breath.

    So, maybe it's because people who hate us must be inferior "meanie poo-heads" and the cooler or more mainstream the poo-heads are, then the even MORE awesome you are?

  2. Hi, Alli...and thanks for singing along.

    You have a point and I suspect that in a lot of cases what you say is true. I also love the phrase "meanie poo-heads" and may have to make it my own. :)



  3. Anonymous5:19 PM

    When factions wail about how they're hated, who is their intended audience for their wailing? The people who agree with them. Never underestimate the energy flow generated by people empathizing with a victim, petting a victim, and holding a victim up as a model citizen simply because they identify with the negative in the victim's experience.

    It's a very particular form of glamour to invoke the universal victimhood of all mankind... everyone has had a moment when they were hated, misunderstood, or persecuted. Playing on the victim aspect is the easiest "in" to the most tender unhealed wound in a person. Focusing on the negative allows easy tapping of that wound and knee-jerk response of "Oh, I understand, let me help you/join your cause".

    Sometimes it brings attention to the fact they're soooo persecuted and yet, please marvel at their strength (ego stroking is a good energy feed). At other times, it's a need to be a victim in order to gain attention, respect, or audience (after all, being a victim feeds ego, too... who wants to be labeled so callous that they don't listen to, respond to, try to help a victim? Instant stigma if you don't play into the game and so most do rather than risk the rejection or wrath of "calling it like it is... a game").

    I believe a lot of it has to do with creating a conduit for energy. You know how psychologists say children act out because ANY attention (even bad attention) is better than no attention? Hatred provides its own energy center to tap. Hatred provides an energy center to tap that is DIRECTLY LINKED to the power base of that "other faction". As you drain energy from/take on that hatred, one faction fuels itself from the relationship energy pool of the other. It's codependent.

    That is why love and good relationships are the frustrating antidote. Love has no limited energy pool. It is more vast than anything that can be taken from it. But Gods forbid we should transform our relationships into good things! We'd completely lose our codependent manual of rejecting things, people and factions simply for the sake of our own power. Our egos would wither in the bright light of love and we'd have to learn a whole new way to relate.

    That is more work than most people are willing to do. It's easier to whine, engage in that codependent relationship (even if we end up on the "hated" side of the line) than it is to strike out, be free from the assigned roles, and make a defined stance of who we are based on something other than what we're NOT.

    It probably comes from fear -- and that's a natural animal instinct that has to be overcome with the Higher Self. After all, hatred/dislike/distrust/disapproval are dividing lines in response to fear. Fear is an intensely personal perception that colors everything and lies at the root of nearly every case of poor judgment.

    It must begin like a rock in a pool, starting with individuals. As individuals learn to face their own fears, their circles will widen and become more open (people will focus less on the negatives as a means of controlling their own pain through the shifting responsibility of assuaging their own fears onto others). From there, factions will change and will stop the conversation of "who we are based on who we aren't".

    Good insight! I hope it prompts plenty of interesting discussion!

  4. As always, Sitara, excellent points. I think, too, that in a lot of cases the hatred is a banner behind which to hide. You mentioned fear. If I don't "fit in" for some reason, taking a mantle of a less-than-popular religion, as an example, gives me a convenient scapegoat for my lack of acceptance. "They don't like me because of my religion (politics, causes, whatever)," is easier to swallow than, "People don't like me because I'm socially inept," or, "I'm afraid to reach out to others."

    There's also a certain validation in persecution. Using religion as an example again, if you believe differently from me, your belief feels like an indictment of mine and, by extension, of me. If you believe you are right, you must believe I am wrong. If you dislike me, that's a pretty strong indictment. And if my beliefs are such that being right is vital, your hating me becomes a badge of honor. If you liked me, it might imply that we had something in common and that won't do.

    Ahh, I do ramble. Thanks for the comments, and come sing here more often!

  5. Anonymous12:06 PM

    Excellent, excellent points! Bravo! Now, I'm going to ask the hard question?

    How do we change this dynamic? What can we /DO/ about it? (You could start with another post... *hint*hint*).


  6. Anonymous4:35 PM

    Sitara/ Linda: Great dialogue! People define themselves by what they hate, or who hates them becuase hate is so seductive, and deceptively powerful. The hatred leads to martyrdom, and the feeling of being the victim. It's a powerful cycle.
    I think Sitara's on to something: people DO seem to gain energy from identifying with hate. I never thought of that before. It's such a stong emotion and it drowns out logic and reason... which is why it's so hard to break people out of that cycle once they're in it.

    So how do we change this?

    This may sound simplistic, but the principles of change work the same regardless of the topic. If people are to change, they have to see that there's a better alternative and want it badly enough to expend the energy to make a change.

    How do we change the dynamic? By showing them a better way. Now, I don't for one minute think that you sit down at a table of people wallowing in martyrdom, break out some positivity, and expect them to buy it. I do think we can do better at not buying into it, or feeding it. If a difference can be made, it will be made one person at a time, not at a group level. ~Zephyr

  7. Zephyr, always good to have you in the choir!

    There's another post coming from this...stay tuned. :)


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