Why do we hate?

Why do we hate?

It is tough to understand where all the hate in our world comes from. Why would teenagers, full of life and potential, blow themselves up to kill those they disagree with? Why would educators, scientists, engineers, doctors and nurses override their education, experience and wisdom and turn into assassins of their own kind, including elderly, women and children - even their own parents? How do their handlers manage to fill them with such twisted convictions about those of other races, religions or even points of view?

Psychiatrists and social scientists have wondered about the hidden capacity of humans to commit barbaric atrocities. They study war crimes and ethnic cleansing to discover the ills in our nature that allow demons to infiltrate our hearts and minds, exploit our weaknesses, and implant diseases.

Still, it is amazing how we have all failed for centuries to stop the wicked people who have invented conflicts that have destroyed our world under the banners of faith, patriotism and racism.

I believe it all starts at home. The forming of our nature, culture and attitude begins at an early age, and then progresses in schools, workplaces, houses of worship and the marketplace.

“It is all his fault!” Children develop their defense mechanism by blaming their shortcomings, wrongdoings and troubles on others. As they get “wiser” their tactics become more sophisticated. They also start believing their own lies.

Now, they explain why the “others” are “always” wrong, “always” to blame: (It is their culture, ethnicity or religion. It is their color, kind or class. It is the wrong neighborhood, associations or politics, or simply: It is in their nature!).

And then come the details and explanations: In their culture they are brought up as aggressors, cheaters, lazy, stupid. In their countries, they are backward, poor and uneducated. Or: Their societies are liberal, decadent and “kafir.”

So one way or another: We are morally and genetically better than them, our God is better than theirs. Or, if we belong to the same religion, sect, tribe or family: We are more religious than them!

It is human nature to feel superior, righteous and blame-free. It is our conscience, be it religious, educational, cultural, and/or our upbringing that controls our natural tendencies.

That is why the hate preachers and war merchants use the same channels to control our conscience. They make it right to despise other humans, and wrong to be kind to them. They play on our worst weaknesses, such as fear, anxiety, selfishness and vanity to bring out the worst in us: Hate.

Then they use these weapons of mass destruction to start wars that annihilate all, except their fiefdoms; impoverish all, except themselves. Those are wars in which they never risk their own lives and fortunes, and to which they never send their own sons.

Terrorism and terrorists are the products of such schemes. It starts in homes, schools and places of worship, where young minds are formed. After filling them with “I am right, they are wrong! I am good, they are bad!” fear and hatred are heated to boiling degrees. “Look what they are doing to us! What they are planning to do! If we don’t hit back, now, they will win! We will be overtaken, humiliated and forever enslaved.”

Next comes training: To fight back, to kill and destroy without any feeling of guilt. After all, you are defending your religion, culture, people, self and way of life!

Sound familiar? That is because it is!

So, what do we do to short-circuit this vicious circle? How do we cease such madness? We should begin where it all started: Home, school, places of worship and the media. We should undo what has been done at the same place where it is being done.

Are we ready for the “just” fight? The “bad guys” are entrenched, armed with experience, determination and “hate”. We need an action plan. Arab and Muslim nations must join the global march to fight terror. We need to support the global anti-terrorism alliance, activate inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, and, as important, initiate inter-sectarian dialogue among Muslims. And we need to do it right away.

The world is on fire! Ours is the worst! The mothership of terror, Iran, is dividing to concur our nations. We should not help by reigniting centuries-old sectarian and racial conflicts. We owe our children a way to a brighter future. We owe Arab and Muslim nations a unity of purpose and an overdue path to peace, development and prosperity. And we owe Allah a true understanding of His message of enlightenment, coexistence and “emarat al ardh”, earth building. It is high time that we pay our debts and honor our commitments!

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at kbatarfi@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kbatarfi