Hate, Anger and Change.

I encountered a quote today by Maya Angelou:

"Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet."

Much as I love Maya, I don't think it's as simple as that.

Through recorded history there has always been a tendency to think some emotions are fine., happiness, love, joy: and others, like hate, anger and fear, should be exised from our lives. I have never really been convinced of this.

I hate child poverty, I hate injustice, I feel angry when I hear of them and so do most people, I fear the consequences of thoughtless acts. And if none of us felt such hate, would anything ever change?

The problems start when we are angry with people, when we come to hate people, and come to fear them as individuals or groups.  This is related to something known in psychology as the 'actor observer effect'.

Essentially we can think about this phenomena like this. If I walk into a room and trip over the rug, I think, "that rug shouldn't be there. It's a hazard." If you walk into the room and trip over the rug, I think, "what a clumsy person you are".

When 'we', do things, it's usually because of the situation we are in, and obviously 'we' are trying to do something good, even if other people think it's something bad. When others do things it's because of who they are, And if we think what they are doing is 'bad', then the person doing it is a 'bad' person.

And worse when we think a person is 'bad', we stop treating them as a person, and start treating them as a things. And that's when really bad things happen.

Hate, anger and fear are not intrinsically bad, they motivate us to change situations that lead to bad outcomes. What matters is not to hate people, nor treat them as things. And sometimes that is a challenge. It's challenge to think about what good thing the thief is trying to make happen. And further still its a challenge to thinking about the person who is trying to make something good happen by stealing. Hating the theft but not the person.

So I find myself reading Maya's quote and disagreeing with her in a literal sense, hate has inspired us to solve many problems.

But then, I think Maya was actually talking about how hating people, is corrosive. And, if a writer can't be inspired to write by a quote from another writer, things have come to a story state.

And that's a situation I would hate.

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