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Boomer Bytes #57: Hate and Anger

Editor’s Note: Below is another column in Steve Canipe’s series called Boomer Bytes. The column, as the title suggests, will focus on a variety of topics that may be of interest to baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. But Canipe also hopes to start a conversation with younger generations, too. Check out an introduction and Canipe’s (first self-titled) column here.

Hate and Anger

By Steve Canipe

Feb. 13, 2015. Events of this past week, with the murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill and events and reports surrounding it, have called me to question the whole idea of hate. The very first reports concerning the situation reported that this was a “hate crime” because of the students’ religion. Later reports seemed to not agree. More recent reports have given rise once again to the idea that these were targeted because of their religion.

No one reading this column is likely to know exactly what happened or why. The only thing that is known with certainty is that three young people with potentially very promising futures are no longer among the living. But even if they had been bums would their killing be justified?

A friend and former coach, Thursday morning on Facebook opined the following “I am sure you have heard, about the three young people killed in Chapel Hill…some say it was a hate crime and some say it was over parking spaces…but what gets me, neither a parking space or someone’s religion, should end in the death of three young people!!!…..What the hell is going on…some damn sick people in this country!!!!” Coach Wes – could not agree with you more.

This situation that has been happening in Chapel Hill caused me to start thinking about the word hate. What does it really mean and what causes it. Being the internet champion I went to the search engine and looked up “hate synonyms” and from the site at http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/hate the following list populated. Animosity; antagonism; enmity; hatred; horror; hostility; loathing; rancor;   resentment; revenge; venom; abhorrence; abomination; anathema; animus; antipathy; aversion; detestation; disgust; execration; grievance; gripe; irritant; malevolence; nuisance; objection; odium; rankling; revulsion; scorn; and spite.

It was a bit surprising to me that we have so many words in English that are synonyms for hate. What does this say about us as a people? The word has both a verb and noun form and each arose from Old English words hatian and hete respectively. The word anger has a similar list of synonyms; some of the ones related to hate are acrimony; animosity; annoyance; fury; hatred; and rage.

Recalling what Coach Wes said about us being sort of messed up, whether it is for religion or a parking place, that someone would be willing to shoot three young people in the head, I’m caused to pause and consider if both of these are hate or not. Looking at the synonyms the first, animosity, seems to be appropriate for the feelings.

Is it the sense of community that we have lost? I suspect it might be and wonder why this is true. I cannot help but wonder if it is because we are fearful of people who are not like us. I am a Caucasian who is nearly a septuagenarian and I started wondering if I hate people or things. After some consideration, I am not sure if I do or don’t “hate”…and that seems to make little sense; I should know if I do or don’t, seems to me.

Are there things that I dislike – yes, certainly. Do these feelings rise to hate? I don’t really think so, but I do have strong feelings about some things including being against those who hurt others deliberately. I feel strongly against people who abuse their pets, for example. Seeing animals that have been abused raises my ire…but anger is not hate.

If the issue was over parking and not over religion, did the anger cause the killings or was it hate that caused them? As I pondered these things I started to wonder if anger causes hate or if hate causes anger.

The purpose of the column here is not to engage in a philosophical debate over anger and hate. What I would like to do is to cause each reader to examine his or her own feelings about things that upset them. It might be something as simple as someone taking your parking spot at the mall or breaking into your car and or house and stealing prized possessions. Each of these would no doubt cause some degree of anger…but would you hate the person(s) who did it?

When I was first teaching in Charlotte after graduating from Appalachian State, I had my car broken into and my tape player and tapes stolen. If younger readers are wondering what those are, I would suggest an internet search for both 8-track tapes as well as cassette tapes.

The culprits were several students from Independence High School (I was teaching at East Mecklenburg). I was summoned to court to provide evidence at their trial (yes they were caught). When the thievery first happened I was angry but in hindsight I did not hate the culprits. When I saw these youngsters (they were only about 7 years younger than me) in court, I did not hate them even though I now had a specific focus for my anger. I was angry at them for abusing their relative comfortable positions and taking from me and numerous others. It was not to provide food for a family, clothes on their backs, or any sort of understandable reason. Much of the stuff that was stolen was found in trunks and storage sheds – taken only because the young men were bored and wanted to have some “fun.”

What is it that causes some people to become so angry that their reactions rise to the same level as if there was full blown hate? Can these hate feelings be controlled or focused by outside influences? I wondered long and hard about this and then thought about Hitler and how he and his henchmen were able to convince very intelligent German people that the Jewish population in Germany and elsewhere was a threat. But convince them they did and over 6 million people lost their lives because of it – not including the millions of others who died fighting both for and against the Axis powers.

As I listen to the rhetoric concerning Muslims, I cannot help but wonder how this same rhetoric, albeit with the focus changed, had been used by Hitler and his minions. Then I began thinking of all the other reasons that some people recently have been calling on us to hate other groups or people different than us—gays, abortionists, blacks, illegal immigrants, etc.

This recollection creates a profound sadness for me. It is not that I support all the things that those people (the meaning here is those not like me) do but I remind myself that they are far more like me than they are different from me. If I fell into one of the groups that people denigrate, fear, and hate, how would I feel? Frustrated and angry, I’ve no doubt. Why should we expect people who are constantly attacked and put down to feel positively toward the rest of. us? As Eldridge Cleaver once said “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.” If you don’t know who he was an Internet search is in order but all older Boomers would likely remember him first as a Black Panther and later a conservative Republican. His is an interesting life story as is his book Soul on Ice.

Can most of us who don’t hate differences become part of the solution to issues like the Chapel Hill murders (hate crime or anger issues) or numerous crimes described as hate crimes including road rage instances make a difference? Are we so concerned with making money and having things that we cannot see or don’t care about our fellow creatures?

The column here is not really about religion but I wanted to share with you several examples where we are enjoined not to hate but to care:

A passage from the Bible, verse 40 from the book of Matthew in the New Testament quotes Jesus as saying ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

I apologize if I am quoting incorrectly from the Quran, but it says in [2:215] “They ask you about giving: say, “The charity you give shall go to the parents, the relatives, the orphans, the poor, and the traveling alien.” Any good you do, God is fully aware thereof.”

The Buddha commissioned his disciples to “go forth for the well-being and happiness of all mankind.”

Hindu teachings are full of examples of compassion for the poor and sick. Hindu kings regularly took care of poor and sick throughout history.

Whether we hate or not seems to be up to us; anger may be a bit harder to control. Some of the world’s major religions/philosophies seem to enjoin us to help the poor and this means not to hate or be angry with those different than us. Could I be wrong in this regard – of course.

What are your thoughts on hate and anger? Please share in the space following this column or send emails to boomerbytes@yahoo.com. I would love to hear from you about your viewpoints on these related but somewhat different concepts of hate and anger.