Anatomy of Hate

  • National Newswatch

I'm no fool, and I'm not blind to what's going on in the country.  Canada's peaceful middle is slowly being edged off the stage by what were once fringe elements of the political world.  Both sides of the political spectrum have resented the placid, stodgy, almost inevitable pace of Canada's middle-class, and have worked relentlessly to strip it of its power.  Activists from the Left have continually pressed for the nation to accelerate, to catch up to the pressing realities of human rights, racism, gender inequities, poverty, environmental decay, and economic justice.  Those from the Right continually complained that things had already moved too quickly and that there was a pressing need to return to the country's roots, espousing a more traditional way of being.  Both have had their moments in the sun.  But, until recently, they had been unable to topple the middle-class dominance from its pedestal.That is now rapidly changing, as pressure points from both spectrums threaten to upend what had once been the moderate stability of Canada's hegemony.  Such challenges happen in the life of every nation, often with greater or lesser effects.  What has fundamentally changed this time has been the utility of hatred in the new assaults.Vaclav Havel, a former activist who became president of the Czech Republic, knew plenty about the darker sides of human emotions, both individually and collectively.  In his attempt to help his nation transition into a challenging new future that required diplomacy over animosity he witnessed all of this firsthand.  He understood that hatred represented the ultimate provocation.  Unless it was tamed, it would ruin all before it.  He chose to make a major speech, fittingly titled, The Anatomy of Hate.“People who hate, at least those I have known, harbour a permanent feeling of injury, a feeling that is, of course, out of all proportion to reality.  In the subconsciousness of haters there slumbers a perverse feeling that they alone possess the truth, that they are superhumans, and thus deserve the world's complete recognition.  They want to be the centre of the world and are constantly frustrated and irritated because they are not accepted by the mainstream.”These words were uttered in 1990, in an era when such phrasing found widespread acceptance.  They were based on the premise of a misunderstanding of adverse events that caused people to lose their grip on reality.Much of what we have seen in recent days is not based on experience but, rather, on a harsh ideology that claims adherents regardless of experience.  There are now entire organizations predicated on the practice of hatred.  It is not so much a reaction as an article of war, and it summons everyone to its passion for overthrowing governments, decency, institutions – anything that smacks of authority.  Unable to accomplish such goals by naked aggression, they embed themselves among legitimate protest movements and seek to drive them towards a vitriolic behaviour that exceeds the movement's initial goals.This hatred for hatred's sake doesn't find an easy landing in Canada, as it might do south of the border.  But as the convoy protest revealed, the hate movement is increasingly interested in this country, hoping to undermine its authorities and replace them with chaos.  The goal of such insidious agents was never to help the truckers succeed but to make sure the governments and security forces didn't.It should now be clear to all that Canada has a hatred problem.  It's a deeply troubling realization.  We have had our differences, often severe ones, but at no point was hatred ever considered an acceptable way of moving forward.  That this can become a collective force should trouble us even more.   Havel had seen that, too, and wrote in his speech:“Anyone who hates an individual is almost always capable of succumbing to group hatred, be it religious, ideological, social, national, or any other kind of funnel that ultimately draws into itself everyone disposed toward hatred.”Hatred is easy enough to discern in those we oppose, yet we strive and equivocate to name it something else in ourselves.  We justify it, using it as a reason for becoming extreme.  Without realizing it, we permit it to overtake us in our fight against racial oppression, vaccine mandates, gender inequality, and in our struggle for social justice.  We believe it to be a passion, or conviction, or just cause, but don't see how it turns us into white-hot citizens as opposed to serious and thoughtful ones.  We lose the power to understand the whole time we seek to be understood.Canadians have some serious questions to ask themselves.  We are angry, impatient, and at times we boil over.  But are we haters?  It's an important distinction, and one we should be honest about.  If we disagree, there is still an opportunity for resolution and peaceable outcomes.  But if we hate, then there is nothing left but an endless future of division and weaponized rhetoric.Self-government – the Canadian version – requires us to treat our fellow citizens with whom we disagree with no malice or evil intent.  We have always disagreed as a people, but our global reputation has been diligently earned by our ability to stay in the room and work it out.  We must decide, individually and collectively, if this is still how we choose to live and deliberate together.Glen Pearson was a career professional firefighter and is a former Member of Parliament from southwestern Ontario. He and his wife adopted three children from South Sudan and reside in London, Ontario. He has been the co-director of the London Food Bank for 35 years. He writes regularly for the London Free Press and also shares his views on a blog entitled “The Parallel Parliament“. Follow him on twitter @GlenPearson.