Monday, March 05, 2007

Love, Hate and Betherell

It is said that love and hate are two sides of the same coin, and most people take this to mean that first you love someone and then are betrayed by them so the intensity of emotion that was once directed into love is now directed into hate. In truth, I have recently discovered that this simply means that love and hate are both intense emotions which are the polar opposites of one another. Both require energy but love is positive energy and hate is negative energy.
You don't in fact have to love someone enough to feel betrayed by them to end up hating them. You can go from feeling charitable towards someone to disliking them because they display a consistently hateful attitude towards you. You can go from tolerating a person that you find it difficult to get along with in any case to fully hating them because they become openly hostile towards you.
In a recent personal experience my feelings towards a given individual went from thinking of them as odd but basically ok to general annoyance at nearly everything they said, to feeling disrespected by them, to feeling totally creeped out by them. When I finally made it known that I would no longer tolerate their unacceptable behavior, this individual became downright hostile. On the cosmic scale of things this individual means nothing to me, but I have a lifetime of issues and this attack, which was about a 1 on the cosmic richter scale with a mouse fart being a 1, a nuclear blast being about a 5, and a supernova being a 10, made me react in ways that are inexplicable to people who have developed decent skills for coping with life's problems, especially the myriad of crappy little stuff.
I have banished the attacker through comment moderation. If I see their name in the list of comments, I delete it without reading it. Now this individual is going around slamming me on other people's blogs. They really are the most ridiculous thing, and I really don't care but something inside me does.
I was watching this program about people with addictive or destructive behaviors. There was a young woman who was musically talented, had a definite borderline personality. She had been molested as a child. She was standing outside a nightclub when some jerk walked by her and called her a whore. This upset her so much that when she went home that night she started cutting herself all over. She said that she knew it was stupid to get so upset over this but she always did, whenever someone who didn't know her said something bad about her like that it would send her into a spiral of self-hate. This is what happens to me and this is why people like my verbal assailant are poison to me. I should never have been nice to him. My first impression of him was that he was "strange, but basically an ok guy." Then I started finding him annoying, then creepy. The more I ignored him the more he started harrassing me. Then he eventually started making hostile comments when I made it clear that I wasn't going to put up with any more of his shit. He isn't getting to me now, but I knew exactly what that poor girl was talking about. Her cutting was far worse than any I've done. I would cut on my arms, legs and abdomen but immediately try to hide it most times. She smeared the blood all over herself. She also saw her image in a mirror and smashed her fist through the mirror. I wanted to reach out and hug her and say "It's ok, my sister, I understand." Its horrible knowing your actions are strange and wrong and not being able to stop yourself, feeling dead inside and wanting to be dead. And most of the time it is good people that these feelings afflict.
What does this have to do with love and hate?
I was walking along pondering my reaction to this fool when a kind spirit said to me that I was smart enough to know that such an individual wasn't worthy of my love, so why couldn't I see that he wasn't worthy of my hate? The spirit told me that hate involves a great expenditure of energy and in the end only tires out the person who is doing the hating. So this is far from being some namby-pamby new-agey "love thy enemy" sort of speech. It is far more a "ignore your enemy because they aren't worth your energy" speech. I will not purport to lecture anyone that has deep-seated hate for an individual who killed a loved one or other such heinous acts. But for your run of the mill detractors or even your cheating ass boyfriend or girlfriend, eating yourself up with hate does you not one bit of good. And this leads to the concept of Betherell.
In the wonderful science fiction pictorial book Aliens in Space by Stephen Caldwell, the inhabited world which circles Proxima Centauri is home to a peaceful, advanced civilization. There are no jails and there is no capital punishment. But the worst criminals are subject to a fearsome sentence known as Betherell. Those doomed to Betherell must wear special clothing so everyone in society knows their fate, and they are henceforth ignored by the entire population. They have in essence ceased to exist. One can see where this would be psychologically distressing, but as Caldwell points out, to be completely ignored can also be deadly. If one upon whom Betherell is imposed walks in front of a planetary transport, for instance, the transport driver is not going to slow down for them because they, in essence, do not exist. If such an individual is drowning, no-one is going to rescue them because they, for all intents and purposes, do not exist.
While this fictional sentence imposed upon criminals on a fictional world may seem extreme and preposterous, consider the merit of in essence imposing Betherell upon those who repeatedly offend us and violate our personal comfort levels. Of course it would be illegal to run someone down who walked in front of your car because you had chosen to see that person as not existing, and of course if one of these people is actually dangerous, you can't ignore them. But any vile words coming from them are the words of a troubled mind. One must ask oneself, why am I troubled by these imaginary voices? As it would be detrimental to sanity to acknowledge these voices, said voices do not exist.
In most situations, psychological/psychic Betherell is far more effective than hate. It is placid neutrality and the attacker can't gain any kind of psychic or psychological stimulation from the fact that one is expending energy on hating him or her.
You need not love your enemy. But except in extreme circumstances, the most healthy course of action would seem to be to ignore, rather than hate them.


Amanda said...

Well said.

Cheesemeister said...

Thank you! Of course due credit must be given to Stephen Caldwell for coming up with the concept of Betherell in the first place. This guy is/was an utter creative genius! I'm afraid I've never seen any other work by him besides the Aliens in Space book.

Raine said...

Excellent thinking no matter where it originated.Its kinda similar to how I have thought for quite a while. Simply remove the negative from my life. If you dont enhance my life you dont belong in it.If you disturb me, put negativity in my life on a regular basis then I will remove you from it. Simple

Cheesemeister said...

I think this is just simple self-preservation. It sucks how many of us were taught that we weren't worthy of even this much care of ourselves.

yellowdog granny said...

I daughter and I are constantly at each other's throat's..she is bi-polar,suffers anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and is a recovering alcoholic..She has has many bad things happen to her..but it's always someone else's fault..generally mine..I have cut off relations more than once, for my own sanity in nothing else..but I let guilt drag me back in...what kind of mother am I, etc...but at some point I am going to tell her to heal herself before we have contact any more..painfull and pisses me her/can't stand her...sigh*

Cheesemeister said...

That's hard to go through. That's why I take medication (Lithium) even though it kind of dulls my spirit. But it also keeps me from punching holes in walls and raging at people.
However, some people have bipolar to a worse degree than I do. One of my friends has a sister whom she can't bear to see at this point because the sister will say really vicious things and keeps bringing up my friend's son's death in a motorcycle accident. I don't think I could deal with it either.
Good luck with your daughter. I do hope she finds healing and peace.