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Humans are made up of a complex system of reasoning and emotions, that drive their activity through everyday life. Every decision that one makes can be traced back to how one feels, his or her emotions. As shown in William Hazlitt’s essay, he believes that hatred is chief among the emotions that drive human activity. Hazlitt argues that hatred has been and is going to be a constant throughout history because of the pleasure that people derive from hating. Hazlitt addresses how hating is hidden in even the most everyday things, states how hatred is chief among and rules the other emotions, and discusses how hatred will eventually turn the world against itself.
Hazlitt argues that hatred is going to be constant throughout history, because of its presence in everyday and accepted practices, practices such as religion and patriotism. Many people believe that hatred is obvious and blunt when in actuality hatred can be found hidden in many different places “it makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands,” meaning that hatred turns powerful feelings of joy into spiteful feelings of anger and resentment towards one’s neighbor. Throughout history people have used nationalism and patriotism as an excuse to conquer foreign lands and kill millions of people. These historical wars and killings have happened for the simple reason that one group hates a second group simply because of their differences, where they could instead look toward their similarities to find a sense of unity humans have actively chosen to hate one another. Hatred works its way into the some of the most righteous practices and “like a poisonous mineral, eats into the heart of religion,” causing the people who strive for goodness in religion to hate others who have different views and beliefs than them. Humans have seen the continuity of religious battles, farther back historically than the Crusades, and people continue to see these conflicts in Islam today as radicalistgroups attack and kill those who do not share their beliefs. However human nature is in part to blame for this conflict as Hazlitt believes hatred is what controls all other emotions that humans experience..
Without the inbred sense to hate things and the necessity to hate things, human beings would not have hated so much in history. People are always searching for a constant in life, something to ground them in a world of uncertain and ever-changing emotions, people turn to hate because “Pure good soon grows insipid, wants variety and spirit. Pain is bittersweet, wants variety and spirit. Love turns, with little indulgence, to indifference or disgust: hatred alone is immortal.” Hatred flows with humans, it grows and progresses throughout time just as the people that hate grow and progress. The parallel humans share with hatred is seen throughout history and will continue to be seen in the future. Without the constant of hatred that people strive for “life would turn to a constant stagnant pool,” and people would feel nothing, for no emotion can exist without its opposite, one cannot love his or her country without hating a different country, “if it inclines us to resent the wrongs of others, it impels us to be as impatient of their prosperity.” Feelings of hatred travel around with humans just as much as feelings of love do, and even as one loves himself and the work his or her ancestors did, he or she will eventually begin to hate oneself and therefore work his or her ancestors accomplished.
Hatred that people feel towards others quickly reflects back onto themselves. Just as people have feelings toward other topics of a time period they have feelings about themselves, and however good one’s self-image may be, eventually they will hate themselves. Even those that do good things for people, they repay “with ingratitude” and eventually this turns to hate, as Hazlitt believes all things do. This transference of hate can be applied to anything, not just those whom people love, “we hate old friends: we hate old books: we hate old opinions, and at last we come to hate ourselves.” Anything that has not helped someone recently, they grow to hate. Hate is the only constant throughout history, as while humans learn from history, they also grow to hate it.
Hazlitt’s essay expands upon the concept of hate, making connections between the feeling of hatred and everyday life. Hazlitt’s argument that hate is and will continue to be a constant in history is still relevant today as none of his points rely strictly on a time period, but instead they rely on a continuity in human nature. This continuity is hatred, and while some readers may not agree with Hazlitt’s stance on human nature they should still recognize that his points hold some merit because almost anything can be traced back to hatred, and the concept of hating someone or something.
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