I just spent an amazing 6 hours watching Steven Spielberg’s 2019 documentary, “Why We Hate.” It is free on the Discovery Channel web site until the 22nd. You can also catch it on Hulu, Youtube TV, and Amazon Prime Video.
I’d like to make it mandatory for every high school student. Good luck on that.
First aired October of 2019, it is still available.
Spielberg gives us a no punches pulled overview of hate, starting with likely genetic roots in our ancestors and following it to this day. It is not for the squeamish. The scenes from the Holocaust, the Cambodian killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide of 1994 are particularly gruesome. Yet somehow, every episode manages to end with a note of hope.
The capacity to hate is human. It is hard-wired into our DNA. At the same time, empathy is hard-wired into us. Most people are quite capable of being hateful or compassionate or anything in between. Hate comes from the amygdala, that little bit of reptile brain we all still have. Empathy comes from a more recent addition, the supermarginal gyrus of the cerebral cortex. Your life largely shapes how you respond but you can also decide to walk a different path.
Time to find a better way.
When you see someone mistreating someone because they are different, that’s a completely human behavior. Just as human as rising to that person’s defense.
There is an apocryphal story that succinctly tells us how our lives will go:
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
The next time you see someone spewing out hate, which of the wolves inside of you will you feed?
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”