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The Nature of Man…a thought

January 29, 2012

Today a question entered my thinking with such force that I stopped all else that I was doing.  I stopped walking, stopped talking, and I even stopped breathing for a moment as my mind raced down a corridor of thought, doors branching off to both sides as far as my mind’s eye could see, until my headlong plunge stopped before a door marked “HATE”.  Not a door to be trifled with by any means but once the mental vision passed I asked, “What is the nature of hate?”  I have pondered this on previous occasions but today I thought I might ask others.  So, to that vast compendium of supposed human knowledge, the Internet, I did go.  I found two quick little items of interest:

First, a book actually titled, “The Nature of Hate”, by Robert J. Sternberg of Tufts University and Karin Sternberg of Harvard University.  Having not read the book (and having no intention to) I can speak only minimally about its content but as best I can ascertain a theory is proposed therein.  The theory claims that hate has three components: negation of intimacy, passion, and commitment.

Second, I ran across a quote by an American sage, Mark Twain, which reads, “What do we call love, hate, charity, revenge, humanity, forgiveness? Different results of the master impulse, the necessity of securing one’s self-approval.”

The first seems to me to attempt to perform a severely clinical analysis of the topic.  Not such a surprise given it’s roots in academia but an approach that will ultimately proof futile.  As with most things involving the human soul, a quantitative analysis is too limiting to reach the Truth…though a fair approximation may commonly be gained.  You must forgive me if I appear overly critical of a text I have not read and perhaps I do it a disservice.  Let’s just say that rather than critiquing the work itself I am using it as a comparison only to bring the second item into sharp relief.

The second is so much more succinct…so succinct in fact as to appear too minimalistic by comparison.  It does seem to be closer to the truth however, at least so my heart tells me.  So what is the crux of Twain’s claim?  That securing one’s sense of self-approval is the driving force behind any number of human emotions, actions, and conditions.  This rings true to me, especially since it somewhat mirrors a theory of my own, which I will share another time*.  Essentially, the point is that human’s are either kind, unkind, loving, hateful, charitable, demanding all based on a need to feel as if they are in the right.  Whether that right is one earned or owed appears to be inconsequential to the process itself, though not necessarily to the outcome.  The desire, or desperate need, for a human to feel as if they are in the right seems to stem from some core vacancy within the heart, common to us all, that cannot be filled no matter how desperately we seek to fill it or how energetically we go about performing those actions that seem to align with our sense of right.  This, in itself, is a tinder for the human heart’s proclivity toward hatred…but that is a topic for another day**.  The origin of one’s sense of right (versus wrong) is yet another topic for another day*** but again, it seems to have no impact on the process by which a human engages in an activity in order to substantiate his or her existence in accordance with the (dare I say it) moral belief…though the outcome itself is likely very dependent upon it.

So…back to the original question that led me down a convoluted path of consideration.  What is the nature of hatred?  I am convinced that the answer lies in the fallen state of Man…specifically, the inability to restore the balance of one’s existence in relation to all of creation, both the microscopic and the macroscopic.**

Topics for future discussion (to be continued):

My theory on core human nature*

Downward spiral of the human condition (self fulfilling and self perpetuating death spiral)**

Origin of one’s moral code***

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