Monday, February 11, 2008

On Demonization V: Guilt and Stupidity

This is the fifth in a series of posts whose table of contents may be found here, and it assumes you have read all of its predecessors beginning here.

There's a third way hatred makes you stupid, and that is by setting you up for guilt.

You see, most of us recognize, down deep inside, that hate is evil. Once we have allowed ourselves to hate, it becomes crucial that our target deserve it -- because if he doesn't deserve, that makes us a bad person. Now, if you have been trained by religious discipline to face up to your own sins, confess them, and move on, this is not an insuperable barrier. But that sort of religious discipline is precisely the kind of religious discipline that urges you to be charitable to begin with, even to evil people. If you've managed to rationalize your anger and hatred on the grounds that the other guy deserves it, then you probably don't have the religious training that makes you capable of admitting readily that you have been at fault. Which means you'll cling to your error.

And clinging to your errors, refusing to admit you are wrong -- that's stupid.


See, I told you it would be brief.

There is one last point to be made about demonization. I have not necessarily saved the best for last. But I do believe that I have at least saved for last the discussion of the aspect of demonization that is the most lethal, and the best reason for us to take care that, however much our enemies may indulge in demonization, we do not ourselves follow them on their path of self-destruction.

The last post in the series is found here.


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