Are you optimistic or pessimistic about humanity’s future?

Long Term Optimism, Short Term Concern

I am an optimistic person overall and when I look out into the future, I tend to see that things will ultimately work out for our species and our planet.  However, like many optimists, I have concerns about certain short term negative experiences that we will have to go through to get to that better future.

One of the major things that concerns me in the short run is the number of people who are carrying around so much hatred in their hearts for so many other people.  All you have to do is go online to any social media site, especially the parts of it where there is political discussion, and you will find the most hate filled speech.  I get so discouraged in those moments when I see so many people feeding off of one another and their judgments over certain groups or individuals.

As a part of my promotion of this blog site, I recently went exploring various Facebook groups that might find the contents here useful and interesting.  Some of these groups, by their name, sounded open minded and fair and might resonate with the topics discussed on Conscious Bridge.  Yet, for a few of these groups, when I became a group member and read through their posts, I had to “un-join” as the page and group was simply an online location to spout hatred about certain people who were different from them or held different beliefs.

Although I could have stayed and tried to “buck the trend” in the dialogue in that area, I knew from experience that I would simply get trolled.  I am certainly OK with people who disagree with me and wish to dialogue about our disagreement.  It is a totally different thing to have people verbally attack you for expressing a different opinion.

Why All the Hate?

I remember hearing Oprah Winfrey comment on the fact that when you are in the public eye you are going to draw a number of people who express simple hatred towards you.  “Haters are going to hate”, I recall her saying.  But why is that?  Why do people feel like they need to be so hurtful towards other people?

There are a lot of reasons offered.  Online research turned up a lot of sites offering reasons… a couple of sites that I thought did a good job of summarizing with “numbered lists” some of the main thoughts on its cause:

Answer on Quora.com

Answer on Thought Catalog

You probably have your own ideas. (Also see note at bottom*)

In my opinion, most of our emotions tend to have an evolutionary purpose for their emergence.  To me, hatred is a mechanism that allows us to paint over our personal insecurities we may feel when our needs are not being met.  We feel better “hating the other” as it distracts us from addressing our own root fears.

Consider “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” for a moment…..from our evolutionary past, our animalistic nature desires that we meet certain needs in order to survive—physiological, safety/security, love and belongingness and self-esteem needs.  According to Abraham Maslow, we tended to work to meet those needs in that order, much like working up a pyramid. We could not move to higher needs until lower needs were met.

If we get frustrated along the path of meeting our needs, then hatred can mask our underlying unmet need and make us feel better about ourselves. If we judge ourselves to be less than others, our self esteem is threatened and our lashing out covers up our own lower sense of self-worth.  If we find others to join with in expressing our hatred, then we can work to meet some of “belongingness” needs by joining some kind of group bound together by their hate….we can also find “security” by our membership in this group of haters.

Hatred Slows Our Evolution

The problem, of course, is that our hatred distracts us from healing the underlying issue (our low self esteem or negative self image, etc.) and we remain stuck and don’t grow beyond this level of motivation.  Maslow stated that our lower needs (up through and including “self esteem) were needs where we felt a deficiency, a hole that needed to be filled.  If we did not fill the hole, then we could not progress to higher needs….which he described as “being needs”, ones that motivated us from a sense of fullness and a desire to give to others from that fullness.

His original highest need (a “being need”) was called self actualization and it was described as becoming all we could become as a human.  He later added an even higher “being need” of “self transcendence” where we were called to feel a connectedness to something greater, beyond our sense of being an individual.

In my thinking, the “deficiency needs” came from our evolutionary past human (animalistic) nature while our “being needs” were an aspect of our spiritual nature….that place to which we are being called and is our evolutionary destiny.  The problem is, we will never evolve higher if we are not willing to heal our wounds….we can only do that when we stop hating and address our own sense of personal insecurity.

And, as a species, we will remain stuck on our collective evolutionary path and not progress upward to our highest possibilities while so many of us swirl around in our hatred of others.

So although I am an optimistic person who knows that humanity will progress….until we can let go of our hatred…..of ourselves and of others…..we may spend time stuck being less than is possible…both in our individual lives and in our collective society.

So how do we let go of our hate? More on that in an upcoming article.

Mark Gilbert

*Note:  Here you can find another interesting site laying out a “Seven-Stage Hate Model” which I found useful in thinking on this subject.

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