“I hate you,” is a powerful statement. It brings tears, sorrow, and disillusionment. It can also cause more hate, torture and all-out war.
Today, an “I hate-you” attitude grips this earth. The hate is social, political, religious, cultural and linguistic. It forces groups to take side against each other. War - either local or international-- is the usual result.
But have you ever stopped to wonder why this world is filled with hate, killing and war? Why can’t people get along? Why must skin color, religion, language, tribal affiliation, political ideology, personality differences create barriers between two human beings?
The result of this hard-nosed hatred between groups and individuals is reflected in the strange, entangling alliances we see in this world.
The Soviet Union was our ally by circumstances during World War I, but became an enemy between the wars, then, changed to an ally during World War II, and now is considered by many to be our greatest military enemy.
On the other hand, two former enemies Japan and Germany are our allies. In Asia, Chinese Communists oppose Chinese Nationalist living on the island of Formosa. During World War II Germans and French many of the same religion-- fought each other. Meanwhile, Vichy French were against Free French.
Both Russia and Mainland China have the same political ideology Communism. Yet, border disputes and general animosities periodically flare up between them.
In the Nigerian civil war, black Ibo tribesmen fought black Hausa tribesman. Sometime before, black Congolese hired white mercenaries to fight other black Congolese.
Why? Why all this confusion? Why this hatred for other human beings? The reason is, in unexpected ways, quite simple. It has to do with the phenomenon called “group instinct.” It often manifests itself in what has become an explosive four-letter word: R-A-C-E. Not color, but race. Color is merely one aspect of race.
“Race” or “Group Instinct” involves many interrelated factors. These include birth, historical association, language, culture, political ideology, color, physiognomy, religion, economics and many other factors.
But why must groups of people hate each other? Is group or race hatred inborn? Actually, it is not. It is acquired or learned behavior. That is the definite conclusion of former sociologist E. Franklin Frazier: “studies of children have revealed that race prejudice is acquired behavior” (Race and Culture Contacts in the Modern World, p. 275).
Two sociologist/psychologists, Gustav Johada and Henri Tajfel, stated that they found the first thing most children learn about people of other nations is to dislike them in some way. Their declaration was presented to the 127th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. It was based on a survey of Austrian, Belgian, Greek, Dutch and British children, ages 6 to 8.
The Johada-Tajfel conclusion was, “Emotional attitude toward various foreign countries are, as it were, built into children before they have assimilated even the most elementary factual information about them.” This built-in emotional attitude often leads to conflict on an internal or international scale.
Of all the explosive factors capable of igniting strife and war, “Color and race,” said John Franklin, former chairman of the Department of History at the University of Chicago, “are at once among the most important and most enigmatic” (Color and Race, edited by John H. Franklin. Page viii).
Racial strife, of course, is not limited to white and black as some Americans may think. For example, during the week of the 1965 Los Angeles black-white riot, brown men and yellow men were also slugging it out in Malaysia. And at the same time brown men and black men were slaughtering each other in the Sudan. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Africa, black men killed other black men.
“Color” as men define it, however, is capable of causing immediate reactions in some humans. Of all the racial characteristics that peg men “skin color is the most glandular” way said former MIT Political Science professor Harold Isaacs.
Believe it or not, blind people who have recognized the race of persons by their smell, skin texture, voice, immediately reveal their attitude toward the person being recognized. The point being there is no biological reason for color to incite hatred. The dislike stems from attitudes concerning skin color which were funneled into the minds of the people involved.
Skin color is merely the most easily observable characteristic of race. But there are others. Korean and Japanese people, who have about the same skin color, find other distinguishing characteristic to dislike about each other, physical, religious, educational, social, dietary, linguistic and cultural, to name a few.
During World War II Germans used political and group affiliations as a mark to pick out Jews and Gypsies. America and Britain also have their “race” problems. However, neither Briton nor American has yet experienced race war to the degree that other nations in our times have. But we would be naοve to think Britain and America are immune from guerrilla race war.
It would do us all good in America and Britain white, black, brown, red, and yellow to pause and ask: “Must we TOO have our cities and towns filled with the blood of millions of human beings in a horrendous race war”? (Read our article “Race Riots” to learn the real cause of human hatred).
Whenever one discusses the problem of group conflict, he is immediately tempted to begin with Africa. Africa is cursed with a cancer called tribalism. It parallels the curse of self-centered nationalism among European states. This group-oriented tribalism lies at the root of civil war.
The past wars in Ethiopia, the Sudan, Tanzania, the Congo, Zambia, Uganda and others almost all have their tribal component.
A tribesman owes his first loyalty to fellow tribesmen, much as a citizen of a nation gives his allegiance to that nation. Members of one tribe often fear and hate another. The Western ideal of nationalism itself a catalyst for ethnic war is broken down to a grass-roots tribal level for Africans.
In Europe there may be twenty nations tribes grown great-- who explode periodically into national war. In Africa there are about 6,000 tribes. These range from a few thousand members to many millions in population. They compete for all the necessities of life. And today many of them compete for political power.
The differences in tribes are matters of geography, culture, history, level of development, social organization, and religion. At times the differences are physical as in the case of the tall Hamitic Watusi and shorter Bantu Hutu.
Infused into this constantly tense situation is the added historic memory of Arab enslavement of black men. Few realize that Arabs penetrated almost the entire east coast of Africa. They were in control over most of the northern part of Africa. Islam today is the religion of North Africa and perhaps a third of the black population of east Africa. Added to this is the legacy of the sometimes discriminatory and cruel “white man’s burden” in Africa.
While Europe, and especially Britain, held sway in Africa, the simmering coals of racial conflagration against white, brown and black were held down. But shortly after World War II, the monolithic pre-eminence of Europe began breaking down.
Agitation for independence was the cry. In the late 1950’s and 1960’s nation after nation in Africa was granted independence. Curiously with the departure of the white man’s power, group and race war against black, white and brown increased.
The following examples and statistics are not pleasant. But they graphically portray the curse of race and group hatred. This article is written in the hopes that those who read it may be able to impart their influence so that any further racial or group conflagration can be avoided.
Consider a quick summary of some news headlines from January, 1964: Zanzibar, approximately 12,000 Arabs died in less than two weeks. Tanganyika Army mutinies, President goes into hiding. Congo state of emergency in Kwilu province, beginning of tragic civil war, hundreds of thousands killed. Rwanda-Burundi 10,000 Watusi killed in Rwanda, bringing total to about 100,000 dead. Angola Portuguese drop napalm onto guerrillas in “rotten triangle.”
In a summary analysis for the book Africa Addio, author John Cohen added: “During the month of January 1964, then, just about every country south of the Sudan and the Congo, more than half of the African continent which alone is bigger than the USA, Communist China and India put together, was involved in mutiny, rebellion, civil war, or some other form of extreme violence or threatened violence” (p. 10).
But tribal hatred did not stop in 1964. They have continued. In 1966 it exploded with the full fury of tribal war in Nigeria.
Throughout history, human beings of various groups simply have not been able or willing to get along with each other. But why? What causes ethnic, tribal, national and racial strife? Are we doomed to live in a world which cannot eradicate strife, torture and killing?
The cause of such racial and group strife and the needed solutions are rather self-evident. Here are some of them:
If all the world had and practiced one religion, there would be no religious strife. If all the world had one supreme, all-wise government, a single political system, there would be no wars between nations espousing differing political ideologies.
If the world had and spoke correctly one language, there would be no wars over how one talks. If the whole world shared the same cultural, social and educational heritage, there would be no conflict in these areas.
If no nation had a military establishment, there would be no war machine to call upon to obliterate another nation. If the leaders of nations taught respect for other peoples, instead of denouncing them then the masses would not be hating each other. If all citizens of every group were taught to love their neighbor, there could be peace!
Obviously we do not have the conditions mentioned as the prerequisites for world peace. We have no universal language, no uniform cultural values, no one true religion practiced by all, no all-wise government. What then can be done?
Remember, it is the attitude of the human mind which is responsible for racial or ethnic animosity. So, first, it behooves every individual, of whatever ethnic group, that he learns not to hate a member of another ethnic group. That, rather he learns to truly love his neighbor as himself.
Secondly, the very great importance of individual leaders is obvious. During rioting between Moslems and Hindus in the subcontinent of India, when Gandhi was able to go to trouble areas, he convinced opposing groups to settle their differences. Bloodshed was avoided.
But all too often leaders have done the opposite. For example, politicians began many years ago to fan the flame of hatred in the Middle East. Today, these same leaders have been trapped by the frenzy of the uneducated masses. In order to stay alive politically, they are forced to continue their policy.
Therefore, the leaders on national and grass roots levels most learn what is their responsibility in preventing racial and group strife.
All this emphasizes the basic, underlying necessity of a change of the human heart. It is a change too few people seek, or know how they can acquire. But either that change comes or we will witness continuing bloodshed around the world until all life will be extinguished from the earth.
It is evident that man is not capable of bringing peace to this earth. But Jesus Christ came preaching and teaching a gospel of peace. A time when He would actually come back to this earth and take control of the governments of this world. There will be one language, one world government, one true religion, one King, and all the world will be taught to love one another. Do you see why Christ said, “Pray, thy Kingdom Come?”
To learn more of Christ’s teachings about the gospel of peace enroll today in our “Mini-Correspondence Course” series. Learn why there are so many different religious beliefs in the world today enroll in our “Traditional Christian Doctrine” series and if you would like to learn what God’s Plan for mankind is, enroll in our new series, “God’s Master Plan.”