My spiritual teacher uses a word called ‘projection’ quite frequently. Obviously, it is not the same thing we learned in school. Projection is when we ‘project’ our own suppressed aspects onto others, and then proceed to label them.
Like for example, a person who never gets angry hasn’t acknowledged or integrated his own fear. Such a person will find himself surrounded by angry people – people that he is ‘projecting’ his anger onto. When he resolves his issues with anger, the problem will miraculously subside and in cases where it does not, it wont bother him anymore.
In our perfection-obsessed world, we refuse to acknowledge negative emotions, the worst of which is hatred and violence. We condemn any acts of violence and hatred, often trolling such a person and dousing them with…. hatred and violence.
And Eye for an Eye…
When there is a war, no one wins. Lives are lost and both sides mourn. And yet, war is what we crave for, as is apparent from the outpourings of hatred on social media. We want war. We want destruction. It is what draws us, it is what we thrive on. Can you imagine going a week without feeling indignant or looking down upon someone stupid, does that ever happen? Wouldn’t it be boring if it would?
Any kind of altercation leaves both sides wounded. In the very least, you have poisoned your body with nasty hormones that’ll eventually make you sick. In the worst case, it will ruin someone’s life or leave someone dead.
We are Just Like Them
We believe ourselves to be in a better place because we haven’t shot anyone, but do we really think we wouldn’t want anyone killed? Think again. Would we mind if we were told that maybe, 250 ISIS people died in a bombing. Would we lose sleep over that? No, because they ‘deserved’ to be dead.
It is this idea of ‘deserved’, that we use to justify hatred. A nice bubble we use to protect our fragile little egos. When someone talks about hurting a dog, we want that person to be treated like a dog. And we think we’re different. When someone rapes someone, we want that person to be castrated, and we think we’re different.
Why aren’t we really different? Because we believe in an eye for an eye. And the fact is, we’re very different from these ‘criminals’. We’ve grown up in very different set-ups, different economic backgrounds, different social situations, different exposure to abuse and maybe even different religions. But we share one thing with them. An eye for an eye. So when those people get abused, they want to hit back, in any way they can. So do you.
When someone causes someone else pain, you want to see them in pain too. If you had experienced the same level of injustice and trauma as the perpetrators, would you really have been any different from them? You don’t have any patience with injustice, living your cushy, comfortable lives. How would it have existed when you were broken repeatedly by others?
What’s the Solution?
Whenever I say that you cannot counter hatred with hatred, people assume that it also means there must be no action. It is not the same at all.
In many forms of martial arts, it is a well known fact that an opponent feeling intense anger or hatred is not stronger, but weaker. These emotions cloud our thinking. Only one who can remain calm can truly retaliate, because he is able to properly utilize all his faculties.
If we merely remind ourselves that people resort to violence when they have been subjected to so much of it that it changes their thresholds, we might want to think differently, and not worsen the problem by subjecting them to even more violence.
When Kiran Bedi took over Tihar jail, many prisoners who were repeat offenders stopped coming back to jail. When asked what caused the change, they quipped “Kiran Bedi treated us like human beings. We had forgotten that we were human”.
When we see something violent or stupid, the reaction it creates within us is nothing but our reaction to the unaccepted negativity within our own selves. Don’t use random news articles as an excuse to hate. Let us review the way we react to violence. Be the change. Be kind.