COMMENTARY: Trafficking hate
| August 19, 2022 1:00 AM
We are emotional creatures and the majority of what happens in our brains happens in the subconscious, or child mind. The vast majority of our decisions are emotional decisions that are then rationalized by our adult, conscious selves. Understanding this interplay can significantly increase your mental well-being.
Any psychologist can recite the three rules that govern our subconscious, child mind.
The child mind cannot differentiate between fantasy and reality. As children we believe the monsters under the bed are actual monsters and as adults we can suspend disbelief while watching a movie featuring characters with super human powers. If you read a detailed, first person account of someone eating a lemon, you will begin to salivate. If you hear a sad story you may shed a tear. Fantasy becomes a physiologic reality.
Second, our child mind lives in the moment, there is no past or future, only the now. Asking a child to defer gratification to “later” is pointless and the “I want it NOW” tantrums are frequent.
The third and perhaps most profound insight into the subconscious child mind is that there are no negatives. The child mind cannot process a command not to do something. If you tell a child “Don’t eat any cookies before dinner,” this implants the suggestion that they want a cookie NOW and their cookie craving will be foremost in their minds until distracted by other things.
This inability to process a negative survives into adulthood. Skeptical? DO NOT think of an elephant. You’re thinking of an elephant.
This is why in every supermarket and convenience store there are racks of candies and knick-knacks crowded around the cash register to entice the child mind into an impulse purchase.
A recent CNN survey shows this effect. Prior to the Jan. 6 hearings, 90% of Democrats were at least somewhat confident that our elections reflected the will of the people but after the Jan. 6 hearings that confidence dropped to 57%. Why?
During the hearings there was considerable testimony about election fraud. It doesn’t matter that the testimony said there wasn’t any because the subconscious heard “election fraud” a lot and if everyone is talking about it there must be a lot of election fraud and if there is a lot of election fraud then confidence in elections falls.
You may be thinking it is absurd that you can tell a person one thing and they will “hear” something that is the opposite but you only have to watch the nightly news to hear pundits give polar opposite interpretations of the same event.
Years ago there was a group that sought attention by marching down Sherman Avenue waving flags, wearing shirts and proclaiming their moral superiority. The good people of Coeur d’Alene had exactly the right reaction; they turned their backs and ignored the parading bigots.
But for some this wasn’t enough. They hated the haters and formed their own group, waved flags, wore shirts, and proclaimed THEIR moral superiority. The media, eager for headlines, brought the attention of the world to this conflict between haters and anti-haters, and for those seeking such attention this was the place to be. Donations began to flow and a new industry was instituted, dedicated to fighting the enemy, hate.
Hate has been in the news and all this hate talk attracted out of state haters by the U-Haul truck load and spawned the latest campaign to “Reject Hate.”
But is that the right thing to do? What happened to “Love Lives Here”?
When one “Rejects Hate” are they rejecting the behavior or the person? Because if you reject the person, are you no better than the person you are rejecting? Are we just creating a modern day Salem Witch Hunt? Is the casual observer just seeing two groups hating each other? The attempts to drive the haters from among us may be futile.
As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn observed “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
Sadly, even though they may have the best intentions, those that wear “Reject Hate” on their chests may be attracting and encouraging hate, essentially putting up a sign that says come here to fight.
A common saying is to fight fire with fire, but it is worth noting that firefighters fight fire with water, and so the instinctive reaction of the good citizens of Coeur d’Alene was exactly correct: to turn their backs and ignore those using hate to gain attention.
Hate can’t be defeated with more hate. Hate can only be defeated with love.
It’s just common sense.
Brent Regan is chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.
Editor's note: The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author. This newspaper rejects hate.