There is so much going on in the world right now, so much hate, that sometimes I find myself thinking, is this hollow feeling that I wake up with almost every day just me and my depression-prone, hypersensitive brain, or is the world really full of hate?

The United Nations (UN) reported in 2020 that “The world is seeing the greatest number of conflicts since World War II” ( Two billion people – or a quarter of the world’s population – now live in conflict-affected areas. 

We see it today with Israel’s genocide against Palestine that has got the world divided not only between countries, but also between religions, races, communities, friends, and family members. It’s a display of how deep hatred can run and how catastrophic it can become.

Even without large-scale international conflicts or civil wars, we can see and experience hatred on social media every day. Whenever an issue arises or a headline of an incident, announcement, or statement is posted, there are bound to be hateful exchanges in the comment section. Some are even so vile as to wish death upon others. 

We see a surge in hate speech after controversial public events. In December 2023, the Centre of Independent Journalism (CIJ) found more online vitriol against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans identities after a public comment by The 1975 frontman at Good Vibes Festival. In August 2022,  Daily Express Sabah reported that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) “received a total of 1,782 complaints regarding hate speech related to race, religion and royal institutions (3R) from 2020 until July 2022.”

Sometimes hate is directed to a group or person who are simply expressing their realities. Where intention matters, hateful expression is violent and traumatising. 

Hate is nurtured

The reasons and causes of all these external and internal wars may not be obvious, but one thing is clear: there are a lot of humans who spend their lives in fear, resentment, and rage—the essence of hatred.  

Given that life can be so much more, yet so many of us are struggling with issues that could be avoided if only we have the awareness, the language, and the tools to manage our conflicts, be they internal or external.

My most recent experience of intense hatred was last Christmas: a heated argument between myself and my extended family, including my mother and siblings, escalated to physical assault.

I can’t even remember what was the exact reason the argument started, but there had been intense unspoken hostile energy around the house for weeks before the fight broke out. 

For some context, I have always been the “too much” child in the family; “You’re too sensitive, too loud, too expressive, too stubborn, too indecisive, too lazy, too different…” are words I hear often. I didn’t know it then, but I was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) in my early 30s. 

That means that I struggle with executive functioning like memory, focusing, planning, making decisions, and time management. my family couldn’t see this. So, things piled up and exploded.

In short, so much hate was spoken and expressed that day between both parties coming from a place of  being unable to identify with the other person’s struggle, and different ways of functioning and being. 

I always imagine that things would have been handled much differently if there had been healthier and safer ways to address any dissatisfaction and issues within the family.

But this is the sad reality:  we live in a world where we as a species have strayed far from the pillars of our existence, one of them being to be born to love. If we were born to love, why is there so much hate in the world? Could it be that hate is a response to feeling scared? To fear?

There is a saying that goes, “love and fear are two sides of the same coin.” 

My point is to say that the fear that begins at the root of family and self can have a spillover effect. I observe this as I notice the rampant racism displayed through hateful comments in the media; when we think that humans of another race are to be spat for “entering our country illegally,” for “free lodging,” and “causing crimes,” for “making our country look bad,” for “taking our resources” and that if we don’t oppose them, then they will be “taking over our land.” What is the basis of all this fear? 

It’s natural to experience fear as it protects us from sensed danger. However, experience it too often and it can manifest to cause great physiological and psychological harm within ourselves, and we can see it taken to levels with intensity ranging from domestic violence to international war. 

Love is a practice of radical hope; see the system 

Brene Brown, in her book ‘Daring Greatly,’ wrote that  “the need for love and belonging are at the root of all fears.” We hate because we’re scared. We’re scared because we are wired to want love and to belong somewhere. It’s the basis of our survival. 

But have we ever stopped to think, who are we afraid of? Who is saying that the love and belonging we have found and built for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our country will be taken away from us? Who decides which race belongs here and which doesn’t? Who determines the borders that separate us as humans that bleed the same colour, breathe the same air, and have the same need for love and belonging?

Author and enrolment activist Jeff Brown recently wrote something on his Facebook that beautifully explains our relationship with hate:

“I prefer to call it ‘The Haterix.’ Not because everyone trapped inside the Matrix is inherently hateful, but because the system is set up to turn us against ourselves and each other. Riddled with shame and self-hatred, locked deep inside of a system that celebrates emotional repression, we cannot help but accumulate trauma and misplace aggression.

The manipulative nature of the system knows precisely how to turn us against each other, rather than the puppeteers themselves. It’s time for a change. It’s time for us to look beyond our polarised paradigms and see the bigger picture. It’s fine to hate where hate is warranted, but better to hate that which separates us than that which connects us. That’s where to put our collective focus.”

What if we started seeing each other’s pain and honest longing?
What if we make room for rage to be seen, 
to be felt so we can honour the underlying grief.
Maybe then we can make room for love.

About the author: Amy Dangin is a Sabah-based freelance emcee, actor, speaker, content creator, writer and a fulltime mother. This former journalist and radio presenter was diagnosed with ADHD in her early 30s and has since been an advocate for neurodivergence, trauma and somatic awareness, along with conscious parenting and education reform (her ADHD brain believes that it is all connected, so let’s do it all until we’re overwhelmed, lol). Grounding, tree-hugging, silly dancing and enrealment enthusiast. Find her @amydangin on Instagram and Facebook.  

This media output is supported by ARTICLE 19 and Canada Fund for Local Initiatives and the High Commission of Canada in Malaysia.