"He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even unto now."
-I John 2:9 (King James Version)
As part of my research for my comic books, I regularly visit a website dedicated to chronicling various superpowers. Powers range from the awesome (such as flying via jet propulsion) to the terrifying (such as turning into a swarm of spiders) to the absurd (such as transforming into a living spoon). The numerous powers are sorted into a number of categories, as Healing Powers, Combat Powers, and Elemental Manipulation. There’s even a category called “Real Powers”, which has “Powers and abilities that are more likely to appear in real life, or are very close to abilities existing in nature.” One day, while searching the site, I found the article for a power called “Demonization”, which was the ability to turn others into demons. I sadly reflected that demonization is something which has happened to people in real life. You may laugh derisively at that comment and think, “Oh, what? You think some infernal being can appear from the underworld and shine some sinister ray at someone, and they’ll grow horns & cloven hooves and be transformed into some fiendish monster?” No, not at all. I’m not talking about something you might see in some comic book. I’m referring to something more horrible, and which is all too common.
The process starts when someone develops a strong and irrational antagonism toward a certain group of people. It could be based on past wrongs committed by members of that group, it could be based on exaggerated and distorted, if not completely made-up, history; or it could be for no real reason at all. People talk about conflicts arising between people of different belief systems (religions, philosophies, political parties, economic systems, etc.), races, ethnicities, nationalities, and the like, but while such conflicts have been common, it is foolish, even delusional, to assume those are the only causes of conflict. If there were only one belief system, one race, one nationality, etc. in this world, people would still find reasons to hate. It has been said that you don’t need a reason to love someone; you only need a reason to hate someone. This is true, but sadly some people will find any excuse to hate others. There are people who will hate others for their dwelling places, their diets, their musical tastes, the sports teams they follow, anything. Keep in mind that the most notorious feud in the history of the United States, one that spanned decades and caused so much death & sorrow, was caused by a dispute over a hog. There was even a case in England in which one man fatally injured another because a voice in his head told him to injure people who whistled. Whatever the reason, someone comes to hate anyone belonging to a certain group. They start off making derogatory comments and then, as their hatred festers, they begin thinking and even vocalizing vicious and destructive comments. “Things would be better off if they weren’t around.” “They always ruin everything.” “The world would be a better place if someone got rid of them.”
If they allow their hatred to grow and fester, their thinking gradually becomes more warped and vile. They become delusional and begin promoting any lie that advocates their viewpoint, no matter how false or cruel. It gets to the point that they fail to see members of that group as human. Not only can they not show any warmth or decency to them, but they take delight in their suffering. Hearing news about members of that group suffering, whether it’s a family losing their house in a disaster or someone getting brutally attacked or murdered, elicits amusement and a self-righteous declaration of “They got what they deserved!” or “That’ll show them!” rather than the human sympathy such tragedies should elicit. Eventually they decide such passive antagonism isn’t enough, and they feel justified in committing cruel acts against the targets of their hatred. Threats and calls to eliminate members of that group escalate into violence. Beatings, killings, the burning down of occupied houses, torture, dismemberment, rape, depravity- nothing is considered off limits since they no longer see their targets as human. No target is too young or too weak for them to commit atrocities against. These fiends, which were once human, now have the hearts of demons, and think only to dehumanize, to kill, and to destroy. They have sacrificed their humanity in dedication to the persecution of those they view as something other than human.
Sadly it doesn’t end there. Members of the targeted group develop hatred for members of whichever group commits these atrocities against them. They come to hate and dehumanize the entire group for the actions of a few. This becomes reflected in their thoughts and speech. “Things would be better if they weren’t here.” “They always try to ruin everything.” “The world would be a better place if someone got rid of them.” Filled with rage against their oppressors, and feeling more and more that any action is justified against them, they too develop the hearts of demons, losing their humanity in the face of those who view them as something less than human. Those who have become demons thus turn others into demons as well.
The good news is that this process can be stopped by consciously choosing to retain one’s humanity and to see the humanness of others. It can even be reversed by turning from the trodden path of hatred and making a conscious effort to rediscover one’s humanity while rejecting delusions and recognizing the humanity of others. One must always choose to retain and recognize humanity; doing otherwise results only in the condemnation and destruction of oneself.
Written by Raidra