How we are shaped to hate

Shae Slaughter

As members of society, we do a great job of pointing out the flaws we find in one another. It’s easy to see someone’s faults, but rarely do we look deeper to figure out why these issues or problems exist. In a way, it’s the age-old debate of nature versus nurture. Maybe on the finer levels nature plays a role, but I would argue that the greater problems in society are a result of nurturing—or the lack thereof. 

Our world, our country and our culture are not only the products of Darwinian evolution and genetics. They are the culmination of much more. People do not come into this world wired to display unfavorable traits. Instead, we are taught and guided to judge others based on their race or their gender or their socioeconomic status. These feelings and thoughts are passed on from generation to generation, but that doesn’t make them beneficial. It just means they’re resilient. 

From these secondhand ideologies our society has learned how to function, even if it isn’t the way it should be. Of course, we make progress from one generation to the next, but the process could certainly be sped along if we only made an effort to encourage greater understanding. Nowadays, we know there are necessary differences in the world when it comes to who people are or what they believe. Those differences should be explored.

Still, we do very little to bridge this gap in understanding. Instead, we choose to get frustrated with people’s divergence from our own beliefs. As a society, we don’t ask why people are the way they are. People don’t come into this world engineered to hate. They aren’t born with preconceived notions of race or money. Instead, maybe they were born into a family that shaped them to dislike people unlike themselves. Perhaps they grew up on biased histories and false truths.

It’s not too hard to relate that idea to your own life. It’s likely you were raised in a way that was specific to you, a way that shaped who you are and seems undoubtedly right. If you’re a girl, that could have meant being guided into shoes that pinched your toes. If you’re a boy, maybe that meant being told to play sports. The thoughts that now fill your head are a product of those days and those experiences. 

It is easy to say that someone is insensitive or apathetic or basically any other negative label in the book. It is easy to say they should know better when they say something that is racist or rude or just downright wrong. Maybe that’s true. But it is also entirely possible that in their mind, in the narrative that society wrote for them, you are the one who is wrong. You are the one who is misguided. 

To better relate to those of opposing viewpoints and contradictory lifestyles, we all need to learn to understand the background of someone’s opinions. If you really take the time to dig deeper into someone else’s belief system, you might find that their views are not completely unfounded. I cannot stress enough that people are not made to hate—they are shaped to hate.