Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lean on One Another

I Murder Hate
Robert Burns (1759–1796). Poems and Songs.

304. Song—I Murder hate

I MURDER hate by flood or field,
Tho’ glory’s name may screen us;
In wars at home I’ll spend my blood—
Life-giving wars of Venus.
The deities that I adore
Are social Peace and Plenty;
I’m better pleas’d to make one more,
Than be the death of twenty.
In illness, I only have energy in my life for what is important.  My family, my pets, my friends, my work, my internet family come first.   Sometimes my priorites get a little mixed up, but these are generally where my focus and my effort are given.

Hate filled rhetoric is something I don't listen to, I don't read it, I don't spend energy on it.  I find it deplorable, sad, and often the sign that an argument has no basis EXCEPT an emotional one.  Hate is a powerful emotion and conjures up fear, paranoia, anger and often gives the hater an adrenal rush - a physical high from the "fight or flight" response:
fight-or-flight response, response to an acute threat to survival that is marked by physical changes, including nervous and endocrine changes, that prepare a human or an animal to react or to retreat. The functions of this response were first described in the early 1900s by American neurologist and physiologist Walter Bradford Cannon.

When a threat is perceived, the sympathetic nerve fibres of the autonomic nervous system are activated. This leads to the release of certain hormones from the endocrine system. In physiological terms, a major action of these hormones is to initiate a rapid, generalized response. ( - Fight or Flight response, 2011)
These primitive responses to perceived threats or stress are born into all of us.  Hatemongers use these physiological signals to heighten our reactions to their speech and actions, whether in a negative or positive manner.  Some may not be aware that our hind brains and autonomic nervous systems are giving more credence to their thoughts than rationally they are worth, but I am sure that most of the higher profile "shouting heads" we see and hear spouting devisive and corrosive opinions in all types of media are very aware of what they are doing.  This goes for both liberal and conservative, religious and secular talk.  There are no artificial boundaries for people who use this type of manipulation.

It is a shame that those with the least ability to resist the illogic of the arguments are also those who are more vulnerable both to the emotional overtones and to the fear and the rush that fostering hate gives one. Shame on persons who know they are agitating the unstable among us with fear and hate. Shame on the networks and radio stations and political parties and celebrities that build their reputations climbing over the bones of victims while proclaiming innocence and no intent to incite. 

What can we do about stopping this deluge of malintent and misinformation?  For one thing, I refuse to give it credence. Arguing back, trying to convince these people they are wrong is just feeding into the "fight" response. Ignoring it entirely is not an option either. This has been done throughout human history and atrocities and genocide have been the result. Education with a forum like this (Love Beats Hate Blogging Event) is a start.  Analyzing what you are hearing or seeing, not responding on an emotional level helps.  Or we can all do as Robert Burns suggested almost three hundred years ago: concentrate on creating a peaceful society with plenty for all; instead of killing one another, love one another.

In 1972 Bill Withers wrote  "Lean on me when you are not strong... for it won't be long until I'm gonna need somebody to lean on".  These words ring as true in 2011 as they did then.  Let's lean on one another and not tear each other down.  Don't waste your energy on hate and negativity. I won't.


  1. As always Winny here listening. Thank you for your support as well and words of wisdom. You would make a good counselor if not a very very good friend.

  2. Beautifully written, thank you. I completely agree, hate is absolutely rooted in fear. My 17 year old daughter and I were just discussing this two nights ago...unfortunately she has been assigned to be on the side of fear mongering rhetoric, the opposite side of a debate for a school project from where she views things (she's quite logical and is very frustrated, wanting to do well on her assignment but aware that the "facts" available to support her team are all opinion based and play on people's fears). Tough assignment for a kid who is dedicated to peace (she's been a vegetarian since she was 4 and declared she wasn't going to eat anybody, because that is not nice!)

    I love this piece that you shared from Robert Burns: "concentrate on creating a peaceful society with plenty for all; instead of killing one another, love one another."

    gentle steps

    ps. It is good to meet you♥

  3. JBR: I will just concentrate on being a very good friend to you! You make it easy to be a friend. Take care JBR!

    LauraX: Great to meet you also! I am a logical person also, so like your daughter it is hard for me to understand how people get so worked up by speech that is emotionally based without a foundation of fact. But it sounds like she will be able to dissect how it used in her debate! Must have a great debate team coach.

    I think Robert Burns must have been the original "Make Love Not War" dude! :)

  4. Terrific Love Beats Hate post!

    You give great advice: Don't waste your energy on hate & negativity. :)

  5. You are so right, hate drains our will suck the life right out of us if we are not carefull..I agree there are people or organizations that play on peoples fears and perpetuate the hate into something it doesn't have to be...but I wonder if they have an ulterior motive for doing so?

    This was a great from the heart post...leaning on one another is so key for our survival!

  6. Jenn: Thank you! I was ill yesterday so I am going to have to catch up on the other blogs later.

    Lori: I like the comment "suck the life right out of us" because if you concentrate on hate you don't have a life left.


    JBR: ((JBR))

  7. Lean on Me and the particular line you quoted seem so perfect for why loving others is so powerful... everybody needs somebody to love them at some point in their lives, and it is much easier to find that love and support when you have spread it yourself in the past xx

  8. Amanda Claire: great point! I think one of the hardest things for me to do is to NOT hate the haters amoung us. The reason I wrote this is because I have a tendancy to go into battle mode, and that is a hard habit to break!

  9. Winny,

    What a wonderful post!

    Let me start on a lighter note and admire your always-interesting graphics. You made me laugh with that. :)

    On a more serious note, I totally agree with you that it's important not to focus energy on fear-mongering - but not to totally ignore it either (for the reasons you gave). As Laura said, hate is rooted in fear. So, I suppose finding ways to alleviate people's fears might well be a way to prevent hate from forming/building/growing/spreading.

    On a personal note, your video made me tear up. Here's why... My husband and I met 15 years ago this Saturday and our first date was the following month (March 8, 1996). On that first date, we had the car radio playing and this song came on. From that first date on, he and I have leaned on each other in many ways.

    Whether it is one person leaning on another (emotionally or physically) or whether it is a broader, perhaps more figurative thing ("Let's lean on one another and not tear each other down"), it is human nature for people to need to be connected to one another.

    By people leaning on one another rather than tearing each other apart, love truly does beat hate.

    Thank you for a thought-provoking post.


  10. Jeanne: Made me tear up to reading about the song and you and your husand. It has long been one of my favorites!!! So thankful that you took the time to organize interested persons to work against the harm that hate filled rhetoric brings.

    Glad you enjoy my convoluted creations that I illustrate with. My poor head has been through all kinds of imaginary trauma!!!

  11. Very important writing Emily and much kinder than a rant I engaged in a couple of years ago. You may get a kick out of it...

  12. Angie: Loved your rant! I am ashamed that windbag is from Missouri.