“Hate can be a deeply stimulating emotion. The world becomes much easier to understand and much less terrifying if you divide everything and everyone into friends and enemies, we and they, good and evil. The easiest way to unite a group isn’t through love, because love is hard. It makes demands. Hate is simple.” —Frederik Backman: Beartown(Ch. 35)
I never imagined I would enjoy a book about hockey, a sport that leaves me (pun intended) cold. But Frederik Backman, author most known for A Man Called Ove, managed to hold my attention in his book Beartown.A teen hockey club in a small town is the setting for the story and the book fulfills my requirements of interesting characters and page-turning plot. But I particularly enjoyed his one-paragraph little philosophic inquiries that often open each chapter. Like the one above.
I’ve often thought of Don Juan’s (remember him from the Carlos Castaneda books?) quote that “it takes the same amount of energy to make yourself miserable as to make yourself happy.” It’s a good reminder as to where and how to direct our finite supply of energy and attention. But now I wonder if it’s true. Because, as Backman suggests, it seems a helluva lot easier to hate than to love.
From the Hindu perspective, our animal drives live near the base of the spine in the first three chakras— food, sex, power. These are granted for free to us all and is the reason why the media constantly seduces us with sexy, violent images and ads for fattening salty, crispy and sugary foods.
But the fourth chakra of the heart is where the raw sexual instinct transforms to love. The fifth in the throat is where the might of the pen overrides the muscle of the sword and the sixth in the middle of the forehead is where food for the body becomes food for the Soul and Spirit. To arrive at these three upper chakras, we must make a conscious effort, climb vertically against gravity. That’s why so many of us choose to stuff ourselves with fast food, become obese in body fat and starving in spirit. Why we immerse ourselves in the constant violence of the super-hero/ horror/ thriller Hollywood fare and quickly scroll through the PBS adaptation of David Copperfield. That’s why we surf the porn sites instead of have courageous conversation with a loved one. That’s why love is hard and hate is simple.
“So many of us” is really all of us, at different phases in our life and for different amounts of time. What is inspiring is those who resist the easy way and make an effort to be better. To understand things more clearly, to feel things more deeply, to work harder to improve ourselves and help heal the world. What is deeply disturbing is those who keep feeding their laziness and are encouraged to do so by those who profit from it, be it through money or power. Those who get duped into thinking that their ignorance is as good as anyone’s understanding, their refusal to face themselves and do the work to improve is as good another’s determination to do better, their hate is as good as anyone’s love— and it’s their right to choose it. Backman’s second paragraph.
"So the first thing that happens in a conflict is that we choose a side, because that’s easier than trying to hold two thoughts in our heads at the same time. The second thing that happens is that we seek out facts that confirm what we want to believe—comforting facts, ones that permit life to go on as normal. The third is the we dehumanize our enemy, take their names away from them."
Once you find yourselves in the crossfire of some internet name-calling, that’s your cue to jump ship. You cannot converse with someone imprisoned in the first three chakras. Better to spend that energy rising higher into your own upper three. And don’t forget the seventh at the crown of the head, when you realize your unity with all consciousness and you connect with the divine nature we all equally share, but don’t equally realize.
Just to be clear, Backman doesn’t suggest that hockey, one of the more violent and male-aggressive-testosterone sports on the block, is the path to your divine nature. But even in the midst of whacking a little puck around, body-blocking your opponents, hitting them on the head with a stick if they piss you off, some luminous moments can arise. With current day politics resembling a hockey rink more than a polite debating society, we might keep this in mind.