I’ve been writing about the causes of war on this blog, but whatever the specifics of a particular war, there’s always one common factor – hate.
When one group of people hates another group so much that they leave their common humanity behind and embrace barbarism, then there is war.
Hate leads to war. But what leads to hate?
Maybe there are one or two people in your own life that you hate. If so, I am sorry for you. But hatred of individuals doesn’t lead to war.
War starts when one group of people hates another group. And therein lies the problem. Identifying people as a group is the precursor to hate. Once we stop seeing people as individuals with hopes, fears and dreams just like us, and turn them into stereotypes, then we begin to dehumanize them in our minds.
The trouble is, we are experts at ignoring everything we have in common and seeing only differences. Supporters of political parties or football teams do this all the time. They latch on to minor differences and magnify the importance of those differences. Ironically, to outsiders, these groups look the same. They are just people who like to argue about politics, or people who like to watch football. They are more similar than different.
This is another common factor of wars – to the outsider they are often incomprehensible, and seem to be between people with very much in common. North Korea vs South Korea. Northern Irish Protestants vs Northern Irish Catholics. One bunch of European countries vs another bunch of European countries. One group of Iraqi Muslims vs another group of Iraqi Muslims.
To its victims, war is hell on earth. As a spectator sport, it’s repetitive and tedious.
War is fuelled by hate. And we can only truly hate others if we first convince ourselves they are not like us.