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What lies within

We are living in a very explosive and volatile world. One just has to listen to the news for ten minutes and a headache starts. People are attacking each other, rioting, burning someone or something, getting killed, raping someone, stealing from someone and it is a shocking endless wave of chaos. The number of pure hate crimes is alarmingly rising.

I recently read on BBC News of Nusrat Jahan Rafi, a 19-year-old girl in Bangladesh that was burnt, leading to death, by her peers for reporting sexual abuse by her headmaster. The 16 peers were influenced to turn against her and attack her for her stand against the injustice and have since been sentenced to death.

Why do we hate?

Hatred is defined a s an emotion that can invoke feelings of animosity, anger, or resentment , which can be directed against certain individuals, groups, entities, objects, behaviors, concepts or ideas.

An excerpt from Allison Abrams, a licensed psychotherapist in New York City and a global writer on the matter, highlights the following as causes of hatred:

Fear of the ‘other’: Hatred is driven by two key emotions of love and aggression: One love for the in-group—the group that is favoured; and two, aggression for the out-group—the group that has been deemed as being different, dangerous and a threat to the in-group.

Fear of ourselves: The things people hate about others are the things that they fear within themselves.

Lack of self-compassion: If we find part of ourselves unacceptable, we tend to attack others in order to defend against the threat.

Filling a void: Acts of hate are attempts to distract oneself from feelings such as helplessness, powerlessness, injustice, inadequacy and shame. Hate is grounded in some sense of perceived threat… The individual consumed by hate may believe that the only way to regain some sense of power over his or her pain is to preemptively strike out at others. In this context, each moment of hate is a temporary reprieve from inner suffering.

Society and culture: We live in a war culture that promotes violence, in which competition is a way of life. We fear connecting because it requires us to reveal something about ourselves. We are taught to hate the enemy — meaning anyone different than us — which leaves little room for vulnerability and an exploration of hate through empathic discourse and understanding. In our society, one is more ready to fight than to resolve conflict. Peace is seldom the option.

Xenophobic attacks in South Africa

A sore spot for Malawians is the xenophobic attacks in South Africa where Malawians constantly fall victim. Within Malawi, people always think it is better to work for international organisations, shop international brands, support international tourism, get international education.

But what is intimidating the perpetrators of xenophobic attacks that we fail to appreciate ourselves? This leads to t h e second question: what is the potential we fail to nurture within our country? And when we become livid about being segregated by foreigners, we should ask ourselves: Are we united?

We have seen what is happening in the country lately; everyone is busy with their own agenda and cares less who is getting hurt in the process. People are attacking each other viciously, showing complete hatred. I believe if everyone took a moment to look within and harness the potential that is there without being (mis)guided by self-righteous feelings of being more deserving or by hatred for those considered threats because of their potential, we would make more progress as a country.

According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we have five categories of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem and self-actualisation. In this theory, higher needs in the hierarchy begin to emerge when people feel they have sufficiently satisfied the previous need. As a country, are we anything near to achieving this need for the citizenry? In the state that we are in, none of these needs are being sufficiently met.

We should recognise that the elements within us are strong enough to make our lives more clear and positive towards our goals as a country. We sometimes worry too much about getting validation from the outside or changing something outside of us instead of working on our potential within. Even as individuals, nothing is as important as the strength of character a person has that will help one overcome both the past demons and future worries. The same is true for a country.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I rest my case

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