Monday, 7 September 2015
The Thin Line
It’s a thin line, they say, between love and hate. Bollocks, it’s a mile wide, that divide. If your emotional recognition skills are so poor that you can’t tell the difference you may be less well evolved than would be ideal to survive in this unstable world. While you may have little control over falling in love, although you may have to learn to curb your more stalky urges, you can always decide whether or not to hate. Hate is a tricky thing to maintain; a fire that has constantly to be tended and even the most severe antipathy fades with time. Hate is a narrow-minded, weak and needy emotion and I, for one, do not have the energy or inclination for it; I’m just not that dedicated.
But while hate itself may be a weedy thing, a sickly, light-deprived sapling that withers and dies without constant attention, the sound alone is a powerful word-weapon in the wrong hands. By the wrong hands I don’t the mean children and teenagers, for many of whom it is practically punctuation, I mean people old enough that they should have grown out of it and those who manipulate them. So while most ordinary people do not hate immigrants and certainly don’t hate genuine refugees, the idea is seized upon as part of the project of painting those whom the left despise as the hirelings of sinister forces. ‘Hate crimes’ are pushed to the top of the agenda so that normal preference for the company of those you know is spun as hatred of others and called racism.
Of course some of those same teenagers who use that word so freely are useful idiots who can easily be persuaded to prolong their inability to think with any nuance; many of them are at university, after all. Peace and war, love and hate. And boy are they quick to the latter, hurling their invective at anybody they deem insufficiently impressed by their clumsy black and white arguments. They are ideal foot soldiers for other, more cynical groups who know how to exploit them. Unite against Fascism, Hope not Hate and other such righteous-sounding groups seek common cause with the naïve and thus recruit unwitting white jihadis to the crusade.
In the last couple of days people have been posting links to the Frankfurt School and their plans for destabilisation of formerly ordered societies. Much as I resist the call to fall for conspiracy theories it is hard to argue this is not exactly what we are seeing. And yet still I don’t hate those who do this. I feel a certain skin-crawling loathing at the sight of yet another atrocity. My distaste is aroused and I feel abhorrence, revulsion and an aversion to their company. Their words and deeds are an abomination, their hostility an undoubted provocation but while my dander may be up and my ire may be only thinly held in check it is, nevertheless, held in check. I am not stooping to their level and succumbing to the helplessness of hatred.
Uncontrolled emotion is for babies
But in the race to appear reasonable we forget at our peril that it is not a race, it is a pursuit and we are the quarry. We need to fight emotion with reason and we need to treat anger with ambivalence and pragmatism. You have your fists up? I’m closing the door. You’re kicking down the door? I’m building a wall. Face you on the battlefield? No thanks, we have drones. Sun Tsu said “He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.” So don’t let those who so freely use the ‘H’ word to describe you, get within striking distance. Don’t hate them; they’re just not worth the energy.