The Psychology of Hate – Sikh Gurdwara Massacre

Wade Michael Page on 5th August 2012, undertook a mass shooting that killed six people and wounded four others. The possible reason – Hate!

Hate has been the reason in past for organized and individual acts of violence. One common reason for hate has been envy. Envy has long been held to be a harmful emotion involving the desire to deprive others of the qualities or possessions that they possess and we covet (Belk 2011). Envy at its extremes is of two types – Benign envy and Malicious envy. Benign envy aims to level up. For example when our friend gets a good boss, we usually end up saying – “I am envious of your job”. This is not destructive. Malicious envy on the other hand is destructive.

Hatred is active, and envy passive dislike; there is but one step from envy to hate.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Due to different governments, different backgrounds and other factors, every person does not get every good thing in life. Hate related violence as experienced by Indians in Australia or other countries has been due to the envy of locals. Locals found the lives of Indian immigrants much better. They were envious. When this envy was benign, it lead to healthy competition. When this was malicious it lead to unhealthy destruction or hate crimes. The massacre in  Oak Creek, Wisconsin is an example of malicious envy against Sikhs who have been doing extremely well.

Hate crimes have happened in India against Indians. A political party in an Indian state launched an entire campaign of hate against Indian migrants. The anti-migrant sentiment was again due to loss of jobs of locals to “outsiders”. If Indians can consider other Indians as outsiders and can be envious, it is quite possible for other migrants to face similar situations. At the end of it what we get is heinous crimes and in worse situations as sometimes experienced in India – political support.

To explain the reason in a  simplistic manner, the hater says,

If my world is a living hell,
How can you live so well?
If you’ve taken my space,
I’ll make you feel my pain.

The case of Wade Michael Page is isolated and I really appreciate the present social system in the United States that despises any racial discrimination. But in future to make this system better we would need economists to work on reducing the collective malicious envy of a population. It makes more sense in a country like India, which is highly sensitive to communal riots and communal agendas of political organizations. Equal opportunities will reduce malicious envy of one race,cast or religion towards the other. It will also reduce migration. If people are living well, why should they participate in a hate movement at all?

I’d like to express my condolences to the deceased and their relatives in this massacre. May their souls rest in peace.

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