Monday, February 22, 2016

Evolution and Hate

The general theory is that human emotions have good, biological, evolutionary reasons.  For instance, love has an evolutionary explanation, in that if I love someone, I will try to help and protect that person, giving that person a better chance at living and reproducing, and so on.  Therefore, people who are able to give and receive love reproduce more and pass those love genes onto their offspring.  Fear keeps us safe from harm.  Jealousy makes us protect what's ours and strive for more.  

But what about hate?

On the surface, it would seem that hate has no good evolutionary reason.  After all, hate is one of the greatest destructive forces known to man, and countless atrocities are committed because of it.  It would seem that hate, as an emotion, would have died out long ago if it were purely detrimental.  We are socialized from the time we're small children to believe that hate is a very, very bad thing, and that we should avoid hate at all costs.  It's ok to dislike something, or be annoyed at someone, but hate?  Never!  

And yet, people keep on hating.

I think there are two kinds of hate.  Destructive hate - the kind that causes us to harm others, and constructive hate.  Yeah, I said it.  Hate can be constructive.  Let me explain.

I have hated three people in my life.  Deep, true, fierce hatred the likes of which I hope never to experience again.   It was a deeply unpleasant feeling.  I'm not going to go into details or name names - the purpose of this isn't to bad mouth anyone.  But I believe, in retrospect, that this hatred did in fact serve a positive purpose in my life.  These three people showed me the absolute worst of humanity.  They showed me how really, truly awful people can be.  And my hatred of them caused me to actively avoid being like them.  

Now, obviously this is not going to be a popular opinion.  And I would like to repeat here that destructive hatred is always bad.  You should never harm others, even if you hate them.  Period.  But constructive hatred that influences you to take a morally productive, healthier and overall happier path in life shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.  

This has been a blog post by Dana Hammer, Evolutionary Psychologist, and Explainer of Mysteries.  Mike drop.

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