Headlines from the New York Times for Friday, April 14, 2017
The Point of Hate – On Palm Sunday, two suicide bombers killed 44 worshipers at Egyptian churches. What compels someone to do such a destructive — and self-destructive — thing? The fundamental answer is simple: hate. But there’s nothing simple about hate.
Lately it seems like hate is in the air, including in the United States, where hate crimes are reportedly on the rise. Like most people, I’m horrified by this outpouring of venom, but as a psychiatrist who tries to understand feelings, I also find myself asking: What is the underlying motivation? And what is it about hate that makes it different from other reactions like anger or frustration? Clearly evolution has preserved hate as a powerful motivating force. Is there perhaps a benefit to experiencing hate?
A 2008 study of the human brain experiencing this emotion confirms that there is a distinct “hate circuit” of activated neurons. Several of the brain regions involved are known to generate aggression and to translate that aggression into action — in this case, revenge.
Strangely, other parts overlap with regions of the brain engaged by feelings of romantic love. Love is accompanied by the deactivation of areas that generate reasoning and judgment. As any poet can tell you, the critical faculties of an infatuated person are lost or at least attenuated.
In its most extreme form, hate motivates the altruistic punishment of organized warfare — a necessity for the defense of any society. In his trilogy on the Allies in World War II, the historian Rick Atkinson describes it as the emotional engine needed to drive troops into battle for that “just war.”
Readings from Isaiah 43.1-3 for Friday, April 14, 2017
The context for this passage in Isaiah is Israel’s return from exile in Babylon. As we read this passage in 2017, consider the millions who are in exile from their homelands, because of war, famine and oppression. Let’s pray today that they know the saving and redeeming power of God’s love that conquers the hate that is so prevalent in our world.
Isaiah 43.1-3 – But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Prayers for Friday, April 14, 2017
Dear God, may your powerful love conquer the hate of our world. May those who are oppressed by the haters of this world experience your redemption and saving power. Turn the haters into friends by the power of your love.