There is a song from the Broadway musical South Pacific that I cannot get out of my head. The lyrics resound over and over in my mind. "You have to be carefully taught to hate, you have to be carefully taught," the song goes. Rogers and Hammerstein knew what they were singing about. They got it right.
I think of those lyrics frequently these days. I think of them when I read or hear about the tiniest of children in the Arabic countries who are taught from their earliest school days to hate the Israelis and all Jews and see them all as villains.
I think of those lyrics when I watch television and see otherwise presumably intelligent and educated people villanize Israel, without taking a stand against this type of hatred that is taught so early on.
I thought of those lyrics when I saw a beautiful little Palestinian girl in headcoverings smiling and sprouting hatred against "Jewesses" on a news program on the Middle East.
Hatred 101 I guess we should call it. The history of mankind is certainly filled with the teaching of hatred, whether it be towards the Jews, African Americans, various ethnic groups, homosexuals, or any group that seems different from the perceived right position.
As a human race I guess we have not yet learned that hatred does not produce peace. Hatred does not make our world better. Hatred does not improve the human spirit. Hatred destroys any possibility of love and maims the soul of the individual and the soul of the group that espouses this sentiment. When will we get it?
Isn't it time that we protest this teaching of hatred wherever we may find it? Isn't it time that we scream, "Enough. Enough teaching children to hate any group and thereby taint their spirits with this negativity." Isn't it time that we save children from this cancerous attitude?
I think of all the fighting groups in recent years, one region against another, each one castigating the other as evil. What do their children learn?
I think about the German children during the Nazi regime, who were inculcated with hatred against Jews or anyone who went against the German party line. How did these haters fare after the war was over, and their hatred was not validated? Does that hatred ever go away?
I don't want to see any group become the target of hatred. I don't want to see our nation's children ever be subjected to this kind of teaching, and I hope it never happens. We have to realize that behind that type of hatred is a kind of crippling fear, a fear of the strengths of the hated group as well as a pathetic indication of inadequacy and spiritual bankruptcy on the part of the haters.
But, pathetic or not, hatred causes untold harm. Witness the young men who killed the boy in Laramie, Wyoming, because they were afraid of his homosexuality. Were these perpetrators taught to hate homosexuals? How did they come by this hate? The boy is dead and the killers are certainly soul dead.
The worst forms of hatred, I think, come from misinterpretations of the Bible or the Quran or any other holy book. Hatred, fueled by misguided religionists is the most discouraging of all hatreds, because God is interpreted as wanting the destruction of certain individuals. Who wants to worship a God like that? A hating God is such an insult to goodness and love.
As the Hammerstein lyrics continue, " You have to be carefully taught to hate/ the people whose eyes are oddly made/ or people whose skin is a different shade. You have to be carefully taught." Only parents and society can teach children; they are not born knowing the difference between one group or another. It is only their parents or other influential people who teach them that differences are not good.
But the God I worship values differences. That's why there are so many types of people and behaviors and attitudes. And no two people looking exactly alike or being exactly alike. And nature offering an endless variety of plants and trees and all sorts of geological wonders.
Isn't it obvious, variety is part of the human scene? But so is love. And only love, not hate, will allow peace to be possible. Hate is not the road to peace and a worthy life. Will we ever get it?
Deanna Kasten, M.A.,LPC, LMFT, LCDC has been in private practice as a counselor in Dallas for over twenty years and has taught seminars at Dallas Fort Worth area junior colleges in self esteem building, assertiveness training, and coping with difficult people in the workplace. She has written articles for counseling journals as well as local newspapers relating to counseling. To learn more about Ms. Kasten and her practice please visit her profile here.