Love and Hate

Love and hate are both four-letter words.  Sometimes they have other similarities.  Love can turn into hate and hate can return to love.  How can this be?

Well, both of them are extreme emotions that many times spring from relationships.  The most basic explanation is that love occurs when the relationship is good and hate develops when the relationship sours.  So are we talking about the same emotion, distinguished by whether things are going well or not?

It’s not quite that simple.  Some people love and hate from afar.  A stalker may be initially attracted to a beautiful lady, thinking of his feelings as love for her.  But the stalker may eventually realize that he can never have her, so his feelings turn to hate.  The poor lady may never even know anything about this guy until he appears out of the dark and kills her.

Some people hate others based on race, creed, or religion.  If you are poor, you can hate the rich without knowing them.  Thus, these forms of hate are not based on personal relationships that have gone bad.  Many times, hate is a way for the oppressed to compensate for their positions in life.  Hate also can become a super-glue for political parties, gangs, and peer groups.  What better way to cement individuals together than by hating another group?  Hitler understood this very well.

Love and hate, although very powerful initially, typically are very temporal emotions, because extreme emotions can burn out fairly quickly.  They can disappear as quickly as they appear.  But there are exceptions to this.  The hate between Arabs and Jews has been going on for hundreds of years.  This is not going away because the Bible makes the Jewish people the chosen ones and the Koran does not.  The hate leads to terrorist acts that beget more violence.  It has become a “never-ending story” of hate.

However, these problems can be resolved over time when reasonable leaders are in charge of Arab countries and Israel.  An example of this was Northern Ireland and England.  The terrorist killings had gone on for decades without any end in sight until the leadership of those countries recognized how the acts of terrorism were tearing the economy of the two countries apart.  Reasonable leaders found an economic compromise that has held the peace for many years.

Does that mean that the leadership in the Middle East is unreasonable?  Well of course it does.  But which comes first:  reasonable leadership or stopping the terrorist attacks?  The leaders say that they must respond to the terrorist attacks, and since the terrorists are not reasonable, they cannot be reasonable.

There is a problem with extremist thinking.  It is important for moderates to exert more control in the world.  Generally, moderates do not choose to get involved with extremists.  They patiently wait for the extreme positions to dissipate.  But moderates must take a stand against terrorists and extremists before they polarize the world.  The thing that makes moderates apathetic is that they believe that since terrorists and extremists are in the minority, they can never take over the world.  Hitler is the ultimate example of why this is the wrong way to think.  Many extremist minorities have taken over countries throughout history.  Stalin just killed millions of people who didn’t do what he demanded.

There are many countries in the world who do not want terrorism to expand into their areas, so they should be willing to form a worldwide coalition to eradicate terrorists and extremists throughout the world.  The terrorists and extremists cannot stand up to a worldwide force that joins hands to crush them.

Perhaps we would be better off by not emphasizing extreme emotions like love and hate and instead by becoming a more thoughtful, moderate world.

Peer Pressure in the Wrong Direction

Our friends don’t always give us good advice and many times push us in the wrong direction.  We may receive better advice from our parents, but may not realize it until we are parents ourselves.  The problem with friends is that they are primarily motivated to make their lives better than your life.  If you do well, they may be a bit jealous, so don’t count on too much support.  In fact, you may find that you have been sabotaged by friends who couldn’t stand your success.

Yet, peers are very important to us as we reach the adolescent stage.  We want to be members of a gang or clique.  We want to be accepted in a group, but at what cost?  We may have to give up our independent identity and conform to the group norm.  And that applies to most any association, whether church group or criminal gang.

And once you pass the test to be admitted to that gang, your life will belong to that group.  You will be owned by that association.  Your thoughts and actions will be controlled by the pack.  There have been many examples over the years where individuals could not believe what they did in out-of-control mobs.  The Germans did not understand why they supported Hitler.  Peer pressure exerts tremendous mind control over individuals.

So how do we interact with others without succumbing to peer pressure?  Perhaps the best way is to always think independently of others.  I remember in law school, we set up study groups to prepare for exams.  The study groups got out of control when they started cutting cases out of the library law books so that other students would not have those cases to study.  Always keep your moral compass handy when you are around these groups.  It will point you in the right direction when they are attempting to lead you down the wrong path.

Why is peer pressure so important to you?  Just remember that you will have a better life without following the group.  Groups head in the wrong direction about 90% of the time.  That’s because their decisions are rarely based on study and thought.  Typically, emotions and intuition lead the pack.  Always keep your head when others are losing theirs and blaming it on you.

And always ask why before doing anything.  If the justification for the action is “just because we can” or “why not?” then you better rethink the action.  I remember when I was in a fraternity, the active members asked me to join them in an act which would physically harm the pledges.  I asked them “why?” and they told me because we had always done it.  I told them “no” and was almost blackballed out of the fraternity.  But it taught me a lesson about people.  Many times you will have to go against the grain in order to do the right thing.  But it is always worth it.