Politics of Hate
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | August 2018
Brain science assumes equality. No people or nations is greater than the other. We should seek better ways to improve our lives without tearing down others.
Science with their technical talk of synaptic connections, chemical reactions, and evolutionary determinism disturb the delicate mystique of humanness. We cringe when science impinges on personal freedom, romance, and self-discipline. Does accepting science diminish our sense of personal worth? I want to be more than a phenomenon of chance evolved from a hydrothermal vent. Human societies throughout history have attacked science for deviating from the spectacular with more ordinary explanations. The sciences challenge generational beliefs, shaking the foundations of human godliness.
The knowledge of the non-conspicuous role of humans in the universe unsettles our demand for centrality, and challenges claims of superiority over other living creatures and the dominions of the unblessed of our own species. Our self-anointed royalty rather than inspired goodness has sought cause to rally against others, using religion to justify atrocities. The self-righteous ignore the evils brewing in their own hearts to attack the less fortunate and succor their own hate.
Large segments of society believed that the civil-rights movement was unamerican, offending their Christen beliefs. Equality legislation was labeled communistic. Lady Bird was spit on while visiting Texas because of President Johnson’s push to enact the civil right agenda. While these attitudes seem to have faded over the last few decades, they must have been only shallowly buried, with the slightest provocation they have quickly jumped back to life.
Even leaders, appear willing to join the long unfinished battle for the lost cause of the civil war (as long as it helps them carry the southern state votes). When compassion is given to anyone other than the self-knighted bigots, they acts are labeled Nazism, and socialistic. You would think after all these years a movement could come up with something different than the failed chants of Joseph McCarthy.
Maybe the scientific view is warmer, and more respectful to life, pumped with much more meaning than a powerful ruling class, christened to live on the fruits of others. The masses that commute to work, put in the hours, and then fight the traffic to return to a small apartment on the other side of town.
Personal worth derived from denigrating others is flimsy; a worth constantly threatened by the success of others.
"Maybe the scientific view is warmer, and more respectful to life, pumped with much more meaning than a powerful ruling class, christened to live on the fruits of others."
A healthier sense of worth is achieved through a positive relationship with experience. Our explanations, expectations, and definitions intertwine with reality compute a contrived evaluation of self compared to the whole. Perhaps, science does diminish personal-worth by challenging charming explanations of divine importance to only select groups of people.
The brain when see as the functioning organ that creates experience clashes with a more fantastic suggestion of an eternal spirit living inside of the clay tabernacle of mortality. Descartes, most likely to appease public sentiment, proposed the non-material (spirit) communicated with the material (the brain) through the pineal gland, creating a link between science and the ruling religions of the time. He was able to continue his great scientific work without being outcast or burned at the stake by appealing to mob mentality.
The brain is the new universe. Scientist are rapidly discovering the intricate connections between life and the brain. The biological mechanisms open vast fields yet to be discovered. For me, at least, this knowledge is a great equalizer. Here I see the fulfillment of early American thought, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Segments of society—fearing the competition of humanity—clash violently, marching with signs and seething with hate. Measuring worth by money, status, sex or race has historically segregated societies and nations, still grappling with the idea that we are all equal. The unfair segregations (physical or idealistically), slapping segments of society with unfair burdens lead to fear, racism, and despicable actions; The Tutsi minority was slaughtered by the Hutu; the Jews massacred by the Nazis; and the Armenians by the Young Turks.
The travesties are not only abroad. Racial tensions continue to haunt this country; last year, a calloused young hater plowed his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville. Dylann Roof cowardly slayed nine black parishioners of the city’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015. Micah Johnson murdered five Dallas Police officers in 2016.
Politicians are rallying crowds, pumping them full of hate, and venom. I’m terrified as I see what I thought was a disgusting few, gather in strength and call themselves true Americans. This isn’t a movement of science but the motivating force of beliefs. Some sick sense of entitled greatness over those who are different.
We must seek Abraham Lincoln’s better angels. A goodness that embraces equality, not selfish greed or evilness of hate. We can find better causes to pursue; if worrying about caged children is ridiculed as Nazism and socialistic, slander borrowed from the foolishness of the past, let them name call as we go about doing what we believe is right. We transcend present discomforts when we adopt a more glorious purpose; the moment loses sting against the larger backdrop of important meaning.
We must seek Abraham Lincoln’s better angels. A goodness that embraces equality, not selfish greed or evilness of hate.
The search for meaning is a by-product of consciousness. We want purpose, connection and answers. We want to know why. Consciousness, with all its gifts and sorrows, emerges from a structure of cells forming networks, connecting layers of evolution. Individual neurons sending chemical and electromagnetic signals communicate, making the quantum leap from the definable paths of synaptic connections to the mysterious functions of the mind.
In the face of scientific discovery, we still struggle for a transcendent meaning, just different from fairy tales suggesting a chosen people. Firing neurons fail to attract the same passionate appeal for most. But life provides rapturous feelings—something magical, something more than chemical reactions.
I refuse to become an unwitting pawn solely moved by the self-determining forces of nature. But denying the significant role of nature in creating and shaping life is not the answer either. All of life’s experiences—biological and social—impact the emergent framework of experience, forming the context of meaning. Our biological makeup, fashioned from millions of years of adaptation, sparks feeling and motivates action.
With consciousness, we can recognize biological processes, noticing rising blood pressure, shortening of breath and tensing of muscles. We notice the biology but can repress unhealthy impulses with something more calculated, directing action with complex planning, improving traits to invite opportunity.
We can’t escape our biology, the natural functioning of our brain, or the entropy of our physical body. Outside forces will also meddle with felt experience, but we can, however, construct a friendlier environment, doing things that prepare for futures—avoiding addictions, developing expertise and building relationships. We can slow aging through healthier eating and regular exercise. We gather knowledge widening perspectives. We engage in activities that bring joy and build bonds. We improve our lives, not by ignoring the confines of science, but by acting within those confines, accumulating experiences, improving skills, and collecting knowledge.
Life itself provides meaning—a meaning inclusive of others, their individuality and differences. With a wider view, balanced with science, we can finally ditch these decrepit and horrific beliefs that exalt some and debase others. As a people, we can seek leaders that minimize the divide, rather than encourage the hate.
Whether more ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ we can honor the democratic system, encourage the debate, and move forward, sometimes moving to the left, and then correcting to the right. When a country makes notable movements towards hate, leaders decrying imminent disasters, we are in trouble. It is neither a healthy part of a liberal or conservative agenda. A cheap motivational trick by evil leaders, willing to feed fear to gather support.
A purpose driven life, whether through religious beliefs or scientific findings, creates meaning by expanding beyond subjective experience and opening to the wider collective experience of being human, alive and full of love for the self, the other, our beloved country and the universe. We need more people with this type of purpose.
Please support Flourishing Life Society with a share: