“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite” -Nelson Mandela
Why do people hate?
There has been a lot in the news recently about so called hate crimes, the most serious being mass shootings in America. So, what drives people to hate another person? As far as we know humans developed the notion of hate to protect their own property and possessions. A neighbouring tribe would be seen as a threat and so hatred towards another tribe would reaffirm the bonds within your own tribe. In recent times hatred has been used in many scenarios, people hate others from a different background, skin colour, politics, and even different football team.
According to Simon Lancaster in his book “You are not human” he looks at the words used to describe people who we choose to disassociate with. By labelling them with a different name we can effectively dehumanise them. By giving someone from a different ethnic group a derogatory name we can effectively see them as inferior to us and in extreme cases this has led to violence and war.
Throughout history there have been many instances whereby people who have lived together in relative peace suddenly develop a deep hatred for one another which ends up in conflict. In recent times we have seen such conflicts in places such as Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. In these cases, people on the opposite side were labelled in a way that they could dehumanised. The reason this is done, according to Simon Lancaster, is because it is easier to hate and ultimately hurt someone if you can be made to see them as non-human. The problem comes when you add a label to a group of people then everyone who belongs to that group has to effectively wear that label.
Whilst the killings we have seen through extreme violence are the most extreme forms of hate, this kind of labelling and subsequent hatred is often witnessed in every day non-violent interactions.
Taking it personally
A few years ago, I was sitting in a bar a long way from home and I ended up doing what many people in bars do, I struck up a conversation with the guy next to me. The gentleman in question was from a different country not too far from my own, but we obviously had a lot in common because we were engaged in a very interesting conversation about life in general. A friend of his came over to us and I was introduced as “Steve from England” His friend immediately came back with “I hate the English!”
This guy had never met me before, had absolutely no idea who I was, my background, my beliefs and yet I had been labelled and this guy professed to hate anything that had that label attached.
I was furious that someone would instantly make a remark like that down to a label I had that determined my place of birth. I began to question why someone would hate another person without ever knowing their human side.
Israel loves Iran
In March 2012 an Israeli graphic designer named Ronny Edry asked that very same question. Tensions were growing between Israel and Iran. This was nothing new as there had been tensions between the two countries for ten years or more. On this occasion there was talk of armed conflict between the two countries. It could be said that the two countries hated each other.
Ronny decided to do something quite different. He got hold of a picture that had been taken of him holding his young daughter who happened to be holding an Israeli flag. He then created a poster by superimposing the words “Iranians; we will never bomb your country; we love you” He copied this poster onto his Facebook page along with a letter to the Iranian people and went to bed. Sometime in the night he got up and happened to walk past his computer. In almost disbelief there was a sea of red dots on his Facebook page. People he didn’t know from all over Israel had sent messages of support for his poster along with further messages of support from Iran.
The next day his wife, Michal Tamir, asked if she could have a poster made too. He then asked his friends if anyone else would like a poster and in no time, there was a whole group of friends with posters on Facebook with the message “Iranians; we will never bomb your country; we love you”
It didn’t stop there. People from all over Israel started sending Ronny photographs requesting he make them a poster too. So many that he had to ask friends and colleagues to help him get through the backlog. Not only were that posters appearing on Facebook from people all over Israel, posters began appearing from Iran with the message “Israelis; we will never bomb your country; we love you” Within days of his first poster the whole thing was starting to go viral. At its peak his page was receiving 2 million hits a week and over 80,000 likes from people all over the world!
It didn’t stop there; online communities were starting to form with Israelis communicating with Iranians. In quite a number of cases this didn’t stop at just online communities, people travelled to neutral countries so they could meet face to face, share a coffee and just talk about life.
These were people who from birth had been taught to hate each other because they wore a particular label, but without any provocation they chose to show a human side. They decided to show love over hate.
“To the Iranian people. To, all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters.
For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate.
I’m not afraid of you, I don’t hate you, I don’t even know you.
No Iranian ever did me no harm. I never even met an Iranian…
Just one in Paris in a museum. Nice dude.
I see sometime here, on the TV, an Iranian.
He is talking about war.
I’m sure he does not represent all the people of Iran.
If you see someone on your TV talking about bombing you, be sure he does not represent all of us. I’m not an official representative of my country. I’m a father and a teacher.
I know the streets of my town, I talk with my neighbours, my family, my students, my friends and in the name of all these people, we love you. We mean you no harm.
On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports.
To all those who feel the same, share this message and help it reach the Iranian people” Ronnie Edry
Further details of “Israel loves Iran”
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’