Let’s speak for a moment about hate. You may think that this is not a problem but I assure you that, more than anything else, this will be the force that destroys humanity. Climate destruction is a massive issue. But I believe we will not make it far enough into the future for it to actually cause our extinction as we will get there first out of our indulgence for hatred.
I am certain that, if you are reading this, you will already be thinking that hate is a problem that other people suffer from. But hate goes by many names. Some of them are obviously negative – racism being the one that comes to mind right away. But there are other words for hatred that are often spun as positives. Nationalism, patriotism, pride, community spirit. These are all simply forms of exclusion and hatred that divide us and cause us to fight rather than work together.
I can already hear what you are thinking. Being patriotic doesn’t sound like it is a bad thing. I assure you, it’s going to kill us all.
There was a time when patriotism, nationalism were incredibly powerful tools for progress. These were ages where it took weeks to travel across a distance of a few hundred kilometers. When the capital city wasn’t a place where you visited for an afternoon but made a pilgrimage to for a month, taking weeks to get there and weeks to return home, at great personal risk. Now it’s a short drive or flight. Travel has ended the age of nationalism being a positive force. It used to be a unifying idea that brought people together. Now it tears people apart.
You are wondering how that is possible, I imagine. It’s because of time. When you live in a small community, dozens or hundreds of people sharing a similar outlook and way of life, nationalism is a way to strive for a larger common goal. If you are in a medieval farming town, nationalism is a way to overcome petty rivalry between you and the next village through a solid identity as part of a much more all-encompassing whole, the nation. But in the modern age, this is not its effect in the slightest. If you can travel to another nation in a matter of hours at no particular risk, it means that the idea of coming together with others of a different place is not served by defining that place as a single nation – it must be redefined as something that actually does include the people that you are likely to encounter on a regular basis or it has only the effect of making those you see appear different, as outsiders to be treated as “other” rather than “same”. It must be redefined to be the entire species, humanity.
At a time when people are increasingly mobile, when the place where you live is not a defining factor for your outlook as it was only a century ago, nationalism is our driver for hatred. You see the people in the next street, not the other side of the world, as being un-American, un-British, un-European. They do not fit in with your sense of what it means to be of this place where you live. But why should they? They are human and entitled to their thoughts and feelings and beliefs.
Of course, there are limitations to this freedom. I am often criticized for my willingness to abandon freedom in such things as religion or vice. But I see that as being true freedom, honestly, not less of it.
My freedom is not a freedom to do things but a freedom from things. I should be free to think without judgment. I should be free to live without danger. I should be free to live in general, actually.
Let’s look at this simply. I believe you should have the right to be free until that freedom causes someone else’s freedom to be restricted. If I am free to be healthy, that means that you cannot do anything that makes my health less and I cannot do anything that makes your health less. So that means that I should not have the right to smoke. And since healthcare is provided through a limited budget, if you get sick through self-neglect, it diminishes my possibility for effective treatment if something goes wrong so you also then would have a duty of care for yourself to ensure that you do not take more than the necessary component of healthcare provided. As such, no right to self-indulgence in a manner that is dangerous to the body. No drinking, no recreational drugs, no self-harm, healthy food, exercise. In other words, living a healthy life is a necessity so as not to deplete the rights of others.
But the issue of hate, that is a dangerous one. We have recently seen horrible acts engaged in in the name of defending white culture. As if white culture was a homogeneous thing. But even if it were, it would not be the only thing and others have a right to engage in their own cultural beliefs, as long as those beliefs and actions do not restrict the rights of others – if you wish to pray, pray; if you wish to kill someone else in the name of religion, no, not so much.
Being afraid of someone because of what they believe, where they come from, what they look like, this is the root of modern hatred. You are equal to me and I am equal to you. Not better, not worse. We must live together and coexist without competition, without fighting, without harm. It does not mean we have to be friends. It does mean that we have to be neighbors in a world that we share.