Monday, 15 January 2007

IS TOBY A RARA AVIS?

A few days ago, in a comment on his own site, 'Reason's Sword', Toby Lewis said:"I think it is very easy to live without someone to hate/fear/etc. Do any of us live in the shadow of these non-existent others?.....How many people would admit to hating/fearing others? Clearly there are those who do that and others who won't admit to it [perhaps myself] but how do you characterise their hate? It seems to me quite a thorny issue but I think it can safely be said that our hatred and fear can in general be overcome."

I have been pondering over Toby's words ever since, as my own take on the world we live in is that almost everybody all over the globe is consumed by hatred and fear of 'the other' - what Jung called the Dark Shadow' - and that it is these deep fears that are driving forward all the horrendous events we are witnessing and dread becoming victims of.

Maybe I am wrong, and there are many more people like Toby - even a majority - who simply don't hate and fear others, at least consciously. It is, as he says, a thorny issue; and I am still thinking through what I want to say about it in a longer blog.

Meanwhile, what do others think? Is Toby a rare bird, a fleeting gleam of sanity in an increasingly mad world, or does he represent a too-silent swathe of humanity who refuse to be bitten by the superbug of fear and hatred?

25 comments:

zola said...

We Shall Overcome Some Day
Deep In My Heart
I Know That ....

Toby Lewis said...

It would be interesting to do a general survey asking people whether they believe they fear and hate others. My guess is a majority would say no, perhaps a far higher proportion of the more introspective members of society would say yes.

What this means about their actual beliefs though is difficult to ascertain. By the sound of things you're motivated to believe differently by the psycholanalytic point of view's erosion of our claims to know what we really believe and this causes suspicion of such blanket claims as barring certain circumstances "I hate and fear no-one".

Basing our actions on hatred seems to be completely unjustified although it is understandable from those who desire revenge. So even if I were to hate someone I would not want to act purely on this hate. Say someone murdered my child, it can safely be said I would definitely hate that person. Yet I would want them to go to jail to protect the public and also to encourage people not to commit such crimes and would like to think that my personal hatred would not overly colour the issue.

Fear is a very useful survival instinct. As we walk down a dark tunnel in a dangerous area the fear we feel at the footsteps of the hooded figure coming towards us is clearly unpleasant but also completely sane. Yet other than in responding to such threats is it a good rationale to base our actions?

The politics of fear is, of course, the craze of the moment. We fear nuclear proliferation, we fear a dirty bomb, we fear ID cards, we fear Climate Change and we fear hardship. Do we literally fear Kim Jong-Il, George Bush or Osama Bin Laden? In general we don't, although we realise that in certain circumstances (when they have the nuclear button in hand) they are people who really actively should be feared.

Yet again should we base what we do on this fear barring running away from potentially life-threatening situations. I would strongly, again and again, say no. I hope there are many others like me.

zola said...

Morning Toby : Agree again so much.

One hassle i have is trying to make sense of this term "fear". I often end up with using anxiety" instead.

Toby Lewis said...

Is not the difference (if there is one) that you have fear towards something and anxiety is more internalised.

zola said...

Scared of me self Iam.

zola said...

BTW : Toby my first comment on this thread meant that millions of folk felt that way, went to jail for feeling that way, and sometimes still carried on singing that way.

Anticant is sometimes right in that he senses a loss of this power of peaceful yet powerful protest. ) Now the grumpy old bugger will, of couse, deny it. but still.).

The Boss Bruce on the speakers?
There is another clue to change.

anticant said...

anticant is always right.

Yellow said...

Er. Confused.

Surely with such a range of emotions that we experience on a day to day basis we probably project all of these onto The Other?

Fear is but one emotion important as it is in order to survive. But so are joy, love, a sense of community etc. All these will on average play some part in our perception of our fellow people. And I cannot quite imagine that these perceptions are to remain static rather than in flux.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the current political climate will be a passing fad as much as the Lewinsky scandal was in the Clinton years. US presidents come and go and the weather can change ever so suddenly.

Toby. By the way. You so obviously do not have children yet. Or you are being unrealistic. If someone murdered my daugher I would make sure I'd take him or her out personally. That may not be civilised, but it seems to conform to my deepest instincts. Most secular and liberal-voting parents(not a quantative survey this) I know have said the same.

Interesting in contrast may be the way those Quaker families coped after the massacre at their children's school. It seems religious faith of whatever kind can also encourage a more civilised healing process.

zola said...

Hello YD : Woken from winter slumber I see.
I agree with that quacker bit.
No matter how I and others have spoken out hard against such like there remains something that I have yet to get to grips with.

But a survey will not help methinks.

zola said...

BTW : When a bully was after my son everyday day at school I went to "see" the father.
Dogs are not born to be bad they are bred to be bad.
Knocked on the door and the big bully father ( a local and registered man with authority to police "things") came to the door. I touched his neck with one hand and his balls with the other.
End of problem.
After this we spoke together many times.
make what you will of that.

I agree YD : If I can help it nobody fucks with my kids.

Szwagier said...

I will admit to having a visceral hatred of Margaret Thatcher. I don't base any actions on it in the real world.

Hypothetically, if she tried to convince me to get out of a burning car (which she would obviously never do, being Margaret Thatcher, but this is hypothetical), I would fry.

Other than that, and based on that one instance, I don't hate people because it takes too much effort.

Toby Lewis said...

YD - I was talking of a future child. Yet I still think in that particular case, despite all the hate and the anger I would inevitably feel, it would still be better to have an objective trial. The major reason being, how many people have been accused or admitted to such crimes and been innocent of them? Also, could it be that such an individual despite their horrendous act might still be able to redeem themselves throughout their life? A court will judge such cases in a fairer way than taking it upon oneself to be a vigilante.

The real reason I chose the example was because I think that is a situation is where we would feel real hatred. Do we really loathe, like Szwag, Blair or Thatcher with every ounce of our souls? I doubt it.

We might even on some days concede that both politicians occasionally pushed through some acceptable policies. For example, the Labour attempt to reform Local Government, or Thatcher's attempt to lessen the stranglehold of the unions. I wish Blair and the Labour Party to be voted out because I don't trust them to tell us the truth, but I'm not sure that I hate him or them.

Jose said...

Will you raise your eyebrows if I say that I cannot understand hatred? Well, believe it or not I haven't felt hatred for anyone in my life and sometimes I wonder whether this is a flaw because in my case perhaps many problems I have had would not have existed.

As for fear, yes I think the human being has an intrinsic characteristic that compels them to safeguard themselves. Fear is mainly, in my opinion, a defence against a premature death or the risk of injuries or something that can damage our spirit.

I think that hatred and fear can be controlled. Brave people are those who can control fear best. Honest, wise people those who can control hatred best.

Szwagier said...

I don't loathe Blair in anything like the same way, although I consider him worse than Thatcher, for the simple reason that I've been out of the country throughout his reign. DOesn't mean I wouldn't throw an egg at him if he walked past my window, but I don't loathe him.

I also didn't say I loather Margaret Thatcher with every ounce of my soul. Insofar as I have a soul, which I don't, I'm hardly likely to waste every ounce of it on someone as objectionable as MaggieT, am I? I'm not consumed by hatred, I hate one specific person.

I judge that I hate her by the fact that I know that when she dies I will cheer. And I will believe that a truly evil person has vanished from the planet. I don't feel that way about anyone else.

Szwagier said...

Regarding Jose's point, which I didn't read before posting my last comment. I don't think it's a character flaw not to hate. I don't think it's a character flaw to hate, either. Hating someone isn't bad. It's what you do on the basis of that hate that's bad or good.

There are racist jokes that I find funny. And I've repeated them. Does that make me a racist?

Toby Lewis said...

I think you're on the right track Jose, hence my extreme example; real hatred presumably only absorbs us when something terrible happens.

Nell said...

Interesting topic, this. When they were teenagers, two of my cousins claimed to hate the entire world between them, but in very different ways. Monica was very individual in her hatred - she hated her mum, her dad, her brother, Margaret Thatcher, the Pope, her headmaster, etc. Peter's attitude was more broad - he hated his entire family, Catholics, Poles, Brits, girls, boys, etc.

I've only ever hated, REALLY hated, one person. It was entirely personal. I guess I still do, although hating someone who's dead doesn't have the same intensity to it.

Szwagier said...

One little thing occurs to me. I think I control my hatred very well, yet I would class myself neither as wise nor as particularly honest.

Who did you hate, Nell? If it's not too personal question.

anticant said...

I hate hateful ideas. I hate the teachers of hate - political, religious, racial, etc. - whoever and wherever they are.

as Joe Cable put it in 'South Pacific',

"You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!"

And as Robert Frost said almost a century ago:

FIRE AND ICE

“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.”

zola said...

Please Anticant !!!
When you step into the wood and with Robert Frost by your side as support please read and feel carefully.
Fire and Ice was, if anything, a kind of double edged question where there were two ways at least.

Do you really think we are, on this non-serious blog site, toilet paper?

anticant said...

I like mine quilted - not rasping.

zola said...

As you always say Anticant : Avoiding the issues turns into toilet paper.
Robert Frost and poetry was the main point. Fire and Ice you cited.
Sori for being so damned serious on this failed site for those that will end up on the street.

anticant said...

Perhaps Teacher would be good enough to explain.

zola said...

Maybe chat rather than "explain" if the preacher can learn to live with the teacher. As they say.

Jose said...

Szwagier says:

"One little thing occurs to me. I think I control my hatred very well, yet I would class myself neither as wise nor as particularly honest."

Hasn't it occurred to you, too, that you may be modest?