If hate is taught, hate will be learned
Dr. Alwin Spence
One of the duties of adulthood, particularly middle age, is the passing of values to the next generation. Why? Because by this age the focus in most cases is not on the self but on the children and the younger generation.
The assumption is that by middle age one would have settled down, raising a family, secure in a permanent job or position, financially stable and now poised enough to turn his or her attention to the up-coming generation, to show, to teach, to demonstrate what has been valuable to them, and this they would like to pass on to the next generation.
So our sons and daughters may end up with a value system very similar to that of the parents.
Our behavior therefore is determined first by the biological traits we inherited and the values transmitted socially by the processes of indirect learning, osmosis, monkey see monkey do, or direct teaching. So values are passed from generation to generation.
Many years ago one of the very popular movies was a musical entitled “South Pacific’ with music by Richard Rogers and lyrics by the very talented Oscar Hammerstein 11.
I might have seen this movie three or four times, I still own the LP record and the music sheet for the most popular song from the movie, ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ the melody of which is often heard coming from the comfort of my shower.
But the song from the movie, which is of interest to me, because of its relevance to the current debate on systemic racism, is entitled ‘Carefully Taught.’
Here are the words: You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, You’ve got to be taught from year to year, Its got to be drummed in your dear little ear, You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught to be afraid, of people whose eyes are oddly made And people whose skin is a different shade, You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, Before you are 6 or 7 or 8. To hate all the people your relatives hate, You’ve got to be carefully taught.
In this song Hammerstein tells the story of a community and how its values are being taught to the next generation.
These values are important and even beneficial; consequently they must be diligently passed down with love to the next generation and the next and so on. So the hate for a particular group is also passed down to the next generation.
Here, hate for a particular group or groups may not be seen a bad thing, but more like a survival tool to be used to perpetuate the status quo of the ‘ them vs. us’, and to maintain the distance between the two.
So hate, which is not always picked up by osmosis must be directly taught and as the song says, it must be taught at an early age, these being virgin years where learning is easy and lasting.
Whether Mr. Hammerstein was mimicking a community or directly speaking to the next generation, we learn how hate is sown for the next generation to feed on.
One psychologist claimed that it is even possible for an infant still in the arms of mother to learn to hate a particular group. It was explained like this: mother holding her infant child in her arms when she encounters someone different in her environment, she is uncomfortable, her heart is beating faster, there are some physiological changes that are taking place.
The child picks up these changes looks around and sees someone, which is a stranger to him or her. When this happens a few times the child may begin to behave like mother whenever there is an unfamiliar face nearby.
Mark you; there is no scientific data to support this possibility.
One generation teaches and expects the next generation to learn. So if hate is taught, hate will be learned.
So the slave master attitude and behavior continues to his children, the next generation and unfortunately the slave mentality passes to the children of the slaves.
But as you must have noticed the children of slaves have broken out of that mold and have declared that they are no more slaves and as such they have no masters.
The masters are having a very hard time accepting the fact that they cannot be slave masters if they are no slaves. So these masters must come to terms and accept the fact that we are all free and equal.
The sooner the better. Master-slave mentality has become extra baggage to be thrown overboard. I have made some changes to Mr. Hammerstein’s song and my apology to him: You’ve got to be taught to LOVE and CHEER, You’ve got to be taught from year to year Its got to be drummed in your dear little ear, You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught NOT to be afraid, of people whose eyes are DIFFERENTLY made And people whose skin is of a different shade, RED, BROWN, YELLOW, BLACK AND WHITE THEY ARE PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT, You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are 6, 7, and 8. To LOVE all the people your relatives hate, AND THE WORLD WILL BE A BETTER PLACE FOR YOU AND I.
So now, must I take my hammer to my LP and smash it to pieces? NO. I will keep it and play it to my grand children and teach them about systemic racism long before they are 6, 7 or 8.