Monday, August 6, 2012

The Nature of Hate

Exactly why did a gunman (who shall not be named so that others will not be inspired by his furthered notoriety) open fire on a temple of worshipping Sikhs this weekend in Wisconsin, killing at least 7 persons and wounding many?

Indeed this is the question of the day and understandable since the answer may be of assistance in preventing future similar occurrences.

Some will explain it thusly: the ignorant killer believed his victims were Muslims, and he hated Muslims since Muslims planned and executed the 9-11 attacks on America.

This, of course, explains almost nothing. If I remember correctly, Germany and the Nazis perpetrated WWII and were killers of Americans. It couldn't be that this killer simply hated the perceived enemies of America or killers of Americans - he liked some and hated others. He was allegedly a neo-Nazi himself.

So exactly what is going on? He was most likely not "insane" in any standard medical sense - he was never diagnosed as such as far as is known right now. You could say he was a "hater," however, which you could then argue is simply the other side of the coin from being a "lover." Is being a "lover" insane? No, it isn't.

Perhaps being a vile racist is simply a biological imperative, at least in part. Perhaps some people are born caring deeply about their race (or hair color or the nation of their birth or their weight or the size of their muscles or the orderliness of the world around them, etc.) and cannot control their impulses to pursue these deep feelings. If they care deeply about their weight, perhaps they become anorexic. If they care deeply about order, perhaps they become obsessive compulsives. If they care deeply about race, perhaps they become racist neo-Nazis.

Much time has been spent for decades or even centuries explaining why some persons are shy, extroverted, heterosexual, promiscuous, gay, left-handed or any number of traits. Now it is believed that we were mostly “born this way” or at least have biological underpinnings for our traits. Perhaps it is time to expand this argument even further to explain at least either in part or at least some of the time why some persons gravitate towards certain ideologies and/or behaviors that were always believed to be the result of bad upbringing or environment.

Perhaps racist neo-Nazis are sometimes born, not made, at least in part. Perhaps this explanation is why human behavior – all human behavior including yours and mine, seems so often unexplainable; we are simply unable to fight the character traits that our biology imposes on us.  It is truly not easy to be "free."  It is truly not easy to live a life guided by reason.

So how would this explanation help in preventing future massacres? If we accept the probable fact that our behaviors are deeply influenced, if not dictated, by our biological makeup, them perhaps we could humbly begin to discuss our limitations and frailties and how we can create a saner society. Perhaps at that point, a sane discussion of gun control can begin.

But probably not. Some people just love their guns.

Why?

See the above.

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