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Septemer 11

"Hate as a Learned Behavior" ©

by Shawn Blackburn

Copyright © 2001 Paragon Peacock Publishing, no part of this article may be copied except for the purpose of reviews for which written permission must be obtained directly from Paragon Peacock Publishing and Shawn Blackburn.

Hate is a learned behavior. Like bigotry and prejudice, people learn these behaviors as they become products of their environment and culture group. Parents, schools, political, and religious leaders teach these behaviors. Sometimes without even knowing it, sometimes with intent. This is done, among other ways, through fables, legends, and morality plays. All cultures have these things that could be considered by some to be forms of propaganda. Parents frighten children into being good or morally positive as it's own group sees fit which, in turn creates negative stereotypes of others. We learn and, in turn, pass on these behaviors as a response to what we don't really know or understand. Because "they're different" and we fear things that are different. Different implies change. We don't like change. We think that our belief is best. Our religion, our country, our "whatever" is best. We even learn that our school team is best, implying that all others deserve to lose. Because they're different. they are from "over there". They wear a different colored shirt.

All religions are basically the same, notwithstanding. I know it might be shocking for some of you, but all religions teach to be at peace, do not kill, love thy neighbor, etc. and yet, even Christians had a hypocritical policy of "become a Christian or we'll hack you to pieces" during the "Crusades". When religion is coupled with a ruling party and education is controlled, cultures breed fanatics that learn to hate what is other than theirs. To fear and hate what is different. This is called ethnocentricity. The feeling "my ethnic group is best" is taught. Ethnocentricity is a natural response in many. Because humans fear change. When you put these tendencies together in a country that is ruled by a religious party, or in a police state or dictatorship, you must realize that what you get is a large group of people that have been raised to be fanatical. The media is controlled in these countries. The governing bodies have told the media what to say and show to the public. They have dictated what can and cannot be taught in their schools. These people have been told what to think. Thusly, how to feel!

The U.S. has been guilty of controlling the media and public perception in the past, too. For instance, the CIA's covert operations in central and south America, sponsoring and supporting political coups. Operations that many don't know about or understand. However, the cold war is over. Kuwait wasn't just about oil, as some might say. The game of chess isn't played like that anymore. It isn't even chess, anymore. We help our friends and chose our fights. The U.S. citizens have become too powerful and informed for manipulation to be possible anymore, unless we allow it. We are smarter than that now and we demand answers and information.

However, the recent events and perceptions threaten to change that. We are justly angry and threatened, but we cannot allow ourselves to be overcome with hate.

Ethnocentricity can only be overcome by information, which brings with it awareness and understanding. Education is the way to peace and a brighter future for all humanity. The information age is upon us and is just one more tool that we can use to overcome fear and hate with understanding. Our founding fathers made a point of separating church and state for a reason. We have opened our doors to peoples of all walks of life. We have struggled to embrace equal rights and representation. We have, though, perpetuated hate to an extent. If we are not careful, we may become consumed with the hatred of others. Especially when some incorrectly equate hate with religious differences. The Muslims should not be judged by what a few fanatical Muslims have done. Remember that Hitler was a Christian. This is just one example. The group that would eventually become the Nazi party had been taught to hate Jews for centuries. Out of hate perpetuated by an incorrect perception that was taught and learned over and over by a culture group that was ruled by a religiously oriented party. While it is obvious to most of us that Hitler was warped and evil, does Hitler having been a Christian mean that all Christians are evil? A few fanatical Muslims might think so. If is is what they have been taught. It doesn't mean that all Muslims feel this way. Some of them call the U.S. infidels and satans because they don't understand our culture difference. Simple differences like that fact that we have striven for the equality of men and women. We have freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. The things that make our country great. Their beliefs dictate that women are property and cannot even get an education or a job, let alone show their faces. Their leaders are afraid that if women and men, the masses, begin to think for themselves and strive for change the religious leaders will lose their power. They made it a capital offence to even speak of other religions because they are so afraid that other ways of thinking might cost them their power. They are correct in that assumption.

Consider the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland for a moment. Two religious groups that are both Christian. They have been killing each other for years over what is really minor differences in interpretation of the same Bible. Because they have been taught to hate the other group based on these small variations. They have been raised to fight and die for their "cause", to preserve their group while vanquishing the "different". To die in battle against a religious enemy has even been taught by some cultures as a sure way to honor and to insure a better hereafter. Perpetuating hate as a good thing.

We must not stoop to hate while we search for justice. While we now have a new and much needed sense of unity and purpose we must strive to educate towards peace and understanding. We must hope to eliminate hate and the use of terror by the ignorant and fanatical. We must be careful what we say in front of our children. What kinds of behavior we teach. We cannot become overzealous and consumed by hate. We must not perpetuate hate or fear.

We, as Americans, are one. We have citizens from all walks of life and culture groups. All colors and creeds. Over sixty nationalities suffered loses on September 11, 2001. All peoples have been persecuted at one time or another, by one group or another. We must live in the here and now and put away learned behaviors, mistakes, and travesties of the past. We must understand that hate in itself is evil, a cancer, and it is not to be associated with an entire group of people when the fanatical few take matters into their own hands.

We, as humans, are one. We are the Human Race. Variation in peoples what is viewed as race differences, have only been caused by minor evolutionary changes due to variations in respective geographies, climates, and forms of subsistence in separated and enclosed populations. Separate populations develop different cultural and religious practices based on these variations. But, we are not separate and enclosed any longer. We are one. God is not wrathful and hateful and should not be taught to be such. This only perpetuates hateful thought.

All Gods are one. All religious teachings are basically the same. May He, or She, Allah, Great Spirit or whatever you personally call it and have culturally learned to call it, smile upon all of you.

Shawn Blackburn

Copyright © 2001 Paragon Peacock Publishing, no part of this article may be copied except for the purpose of reviews for which written permission must be obtained directly from Paragon Peacock Publishing and Shawn Blackburn.

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