Thoughts on how “racism” and “hatred” are out of date and too simplistic – taking a look at the complexity of dislike

Here’s a thought I had:

To me, words like “racism” and “hatred” are old worn out words.


These words seem out of date.  It seems that they are used to the point of nausea, at least in the U.S., for almost any problems that happen between people . . . and even when there isn’t any problems!  A person is either a racist or hates someone, it seems.  It prompts me to say things like, ” . . . but doesn’t everyone hate everyone?” or “if you call someone a black person then you’re a racist”, and so on.

These words, and the concepts they convey, are “so last century”.  The point of view, that is the basis of the words, reflects a previous era reflecting the conditions of those times.  These words generally describes specific conditions of the last century which include:

  • WWII/Nazi/Holocaust horror – this refers to the horror of war and the horror of what people can do to other people
  • The American Civil Rights conflict – what I often call “America’s little Holocaust” – this refers to the bad things people can do to each other
  • The cold war/Vietnam War/Hippie paranoia – this refers to the horror of war and the fear of hatred

These conditions have come and gone.  They are in the past.  We cannot look at things in that way anymore, at least in my opinion.


These words also are too simplistic.  My observation is that there is a lot more to the problems between people than the differences between people.  It doesn’t matter whether a person is white, black, blue, plaid, Jew, Oriental, Middle Eastern, martian, or whateverIn addition, there is a lot more to problems between people than the emotion of hatred.  To say that its all a result of things like race and hatred is, in my opinion, narrow and superficial.  In fact, to me, a person who uses the world “racism” and “hate” is like saying, “I’m narrow”.

There is a whole world of reasons that the word “racism” and hatred does not take into consideration.  To me, the conflict between peoples is a fascinating subject and one thing that is apparent is that dislikes between people do not fit into a single “form” or “explanation” nor does it always involve sinister and bad feelings.  There are many forms of dislikes between people that come and go and for various reasons.  Some examples include:

  • Probably most dislikes happen within a people.  In fact, these are often the deepest of dislikes.
  • Many dislikes are really carry overs of previous conflicts that are no longer relevant . . . they’ve been learned or “passed on”.
  • Many dislikes originate from stress or pressure and are an expression of that.
  • Many dislikes are a form of rebellion against society, such as the hatred against police.
  • Many dislikes are caused by a conflict or collision of character, such as two peoples personalities clashing.
  • Many dislikes are really a form of apprehension or lack of understanding.
  • Many dislikes are really an expression of a dislike of ones self that is projected onto other people.
  • Many dislikes are caused by an arrogance, such as that “I’m better than you”.
  • Many dislikes is nothing but following what everyone else is doing, such as blindly agreeing with your country’s view of who the enemy is during times of war.
  • Many dislikes are caused by feeling insulted by someone else, real or imagined.
  • Many dislikes are caused by jealousy and envy.
  • Many dislikes are a display of contempt toward someone else for one reason or another.
  • Many dislikes are really a reaction to disagreeing with someone else.
  • Many dislikes are caused because they remind you of something else you dislike.
  • Many dislikes are caused by being too “wound up” and needing an outlet.
  • Many dislikes are caused a frustration caused by someone or a condition.

And the list goes on . . .


I like to use the word “dislike” as reflective of the conflict between people.  I use dislike in the context of “not wanting to be around each other” because of the conflict.  In fact, this reveals one of the great solutions to dislike:  just don’t be around each other.  That’s probably prevented more conflict than anything else!  In fact, in many cases of dislike this naturally takes place.  I tend to believe that a lot of dislike, which grows in intensity, is because they can’t get away from each other . . . they are as if stuck with each other.

I have always felt that the “not wanting to be around each other” reveals an interesting aspect about dislike.  To put it simply, the reason why a person doesn’t want to be around a person they dislike is actually because they identify with them and see them as part of themselves.  That is to say, they feel a connection with them.  In this way, the dislike of another person is reflective of a dislike about a quality one has about themselves.  In other words, they see, in that person, an aspect about themselves they dislike.  This reveals a sense of bond and unity in humanity, that we all feel a connection with all humanity deep down, regardless of who they are.  Basically, if you’re human then there is a sense of a bond, of unity  Its like dogs who only bark at other dogs but don’t bark at other animals.  There is a connection dogs have with each other that prompts them to bark only at dogs.  Its the same with people.

As it appears to me, there is a spectrum to dislike.  It can range from a “slight annoyance”, on one extreme, to “when you see them you want to kill them” on the other extreme.  My observation is that most dislike leans toward the “slight annoyance” end.  In fact, most dislikes are so close to an “annoyance” that no one even takes notice.  If you were to look closely I think you’d find that there are dislikes around every corner but they are so mild, and seldom last long, that they quickly dissipate, and so no one notices them, even the people who have them.  Its only when they entail great and deep emotion or physical action that they get noticed.  But, at least from where I stand, that is very rare.  It seems that, for every time that happens, there’s thousands of other more subtle forms of dislike that take place.  And most of this happens before our very eyes too.


Dislike is a condition that is not only directed toward people.  It can be directed in other ways that have nothing to do with other people.  But, to go even further, these other ways can again be directed back toward people again.  Here are some examples:

  • People dislike themselves or aspects of themselves.  Most people feel this, in one way or another.  It seems that most people feel this dislike deep down but are not consciously aware of it.  Sometimes this dislike of self is projected onto other people causing a dislike of other people.
  • The same emotion of dislike can be directed toward places, situations, and conditions as well.  A person can  hate a specific place, a job, going to the dentist, etc.  This can cause a dislike of the people associated with it.  For example, the dislike of a place can cause a dislike of the people in that place (such as if you dislike New York then you dislike New Yorker’s).


But, overall, I see dislike as a common and everyday phenomena that is actually very prevalent.  The problem with dislike, then, isn’t that its there but when it gets to a “certain point”.  That’s usually when things like these appear:

  • Deep and serious emotion This can cause things like name-calling, condemning, harassing, etc.
  • It becomes a basis for mistreatment.  This includes abuse, bullying, etc.
  • Physical action.  This includes violence, murder, war, etc.

I think most people would agree that when the “certain point” is reached is when it really becomes a problem.  The worst form, of course, is “physical action”.  That is the most frightening, horrifying, and terrible aspect of it.

There is a problem, though, in how to prevent the “certain point” from happening.  Frankly, I have no solution.  I don’t think anyone does.  I am under the impression that reaching the “certain point” is part of the human condition and is going to happen from time to time no matter what we do.  This means, more or less, that there is no solution.  It might be lessened, or reduced somewhat, but I don’t think it will ever be stopped.  Its one of the many unpleasant aspects of humanity.  That’s what it seems like to me anyways.


I’m under the impression that for dislikes to reach “physical action”, such as killing someone, it generally requires more than the dislike.  It usually requires something like a catalyst, something else to aggravate the condition or “push it on”.

It seems to me, at this time, that dislike tends to go through stages:

  1. The “simmering stage”.  Here the dislike just sits and is experienced by the person.  They typically do nothing.  From my observation, this is where most dislike happens.
  2. It is expressed passively.  This is where it is expressed in some way that is not really harmful to the person, such as name calling or getting angry.
  3. It is expressed actively.  This is where it is expressed in a more physical form but not excessively, such as some forms of abuse and bullying.
  4. It reaches “physical action”.  This usually requires a catalyst.  This is where people can get hurt or killed.

Its the last stage where the catalyst plays the biggest role.  Sometimes, though, a catalyst helps promote expression in the earlier stages and, oftentimes, this makes them more severe.

There are many forms of the catalyst, such as:

  • Personal crisis or problems.
  • Stress of some sort.
  • Pride, including national and ethnic pride.
  • How one views ones self, such as seeing oneself as a “fighter”.
  • Feeling that if one doesn’t do something then something bad will happen later.
  • A feeling that one can get away with it.
  • The idea that one has a “high cause”.
  • That the dislike is “accepted” in the society.

Often, the catalyst is a belief, mentality, attitude, or point of view.  It could also be cultural-based or religious-based, as well as other things.

In many ways, the catalyst as if “gives permission” to go to the extreme, to do “physical action”.  It allows dislike to go further than it would normally go often to the point of being more extreme.

As a result of this, it seems that a possible way to reduce the probability of reaching the “certain point”, especially “physical action”, is to undermine the catalyst.  But there are problems in trying to undermine the catalyst, such as:

  • How do you define the catalyst exactly?
  • Since the catalyst is often rooted in belief, mentality, and such, this is often hard to undermine, if not impossible.
  • How, exactly, do you undermine it?

I think, though, that undermining the catalyst is naturally done by most societies, at least to some extent and in roundabout ways, such as:

  • Teaching respect of other people.
  • Reducing causes of stress, poverty, deprivation, etc..
  • Creating an atmosphere of safety and security.
  • Devaluing arrogance.
  • Making people aware that they will be punished if they misbehave.

These seems more effective than condemning “racism”, “hatred”, and such, or so it seems to me.


Personally, I see no evidence where calling people “racist” or accusing someone of a “hate crime” helps solve the problem.  It seems, at least to me, that there is more display of dislikes now than when I was a kid, before they used these ideas extensively.  In fact, I have often gone to the library where they have all these programs about racism and hate and I want to go up to them and say, “Do you really think this is doing anything?  Personally, I think your continually bringing it up is actually promoting it.”  That’s what it seems like to me anyways.  Talking about it does not make people not do it.  In addition, talking about it keeps it on peoples mind which may make some people lean in that direction when they do dislike.  Its like people think that by mentioning these words its magically going to end.  I tend to believe that this mentality, and the emphasis on attacking things like hatred, is a result of Christian thinking which preaches “love”.  Since “hate” is generally perceived as the opposite of “love” it makes it so that hate is attacked and condemned in a high and mighty self-righteous way.  Its this Christian connection that gives the words “racism” and “hate” such a self-righteous tone and the blind belief that words are going to solve the problem.

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Historical stuff, Modern life and society, The effects of WWII, the Nazi's, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War era protests, The U.S. and American society, Twenty first century and post cold war society and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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