“Why do you hate us?” “I don’t hate you. I just don’t care about you.”

This piece of dialogue was taken from the Harrison Ford movie ‘Firewall’, which I saw the other day. In the movie, the family of Ford’s character are taken captive in their home by a team of violent con-artists. The leader uses the family as leverage to force Ford; the head of security, into helping them override his company’s security firewall in order to steal large sums of money. In response to the aggressive way in which they were being treated, the daughter of Ford’s character is compelled to ask one of the psychopaths;”Why do you hate us?” The man calmly and collectively explains; “I don’t hate you. I just don’t care about you.”

For some reason these brief lines filtered into the recesses of my mind and stuck with me long after the movie was finished.

“I don’t hate you. I just don’t care about you.” I feel these words accurately express the sentiments of the majority of the people on this planet. “But William, isn’t a lack of hatred a good thing?” you ask. “Shouldn’t this lack of a strong negative feeling towards others be encouraged and not criticized? Besides, people are busy,” you add. “Failure to give any thought to the sufferings of others is in no way an indication that I am a bad person or a bad friend.” I used to share the common belief that friendship isn’t about constantly staying in touch and reassuring one another of our feelings. “My friends know how I feel about them,” I would say. “There’s no need for me to reach out to them. If they need me, they’ll reach out to me. They’ll do so without feeling the slightest bit of shame because they know we are friends.” Living in the 3rd world for the past two years has taught me that there exists an inherent flaw in this way of thinking. When you’re not plugged into a society that revolves around the individual and provides endless low cost distractions; the harmless lack of interest from friends and family feels like passive aggression. The more desperately I needed my friends and family, the stronger the aggression felt. Personally I feel there are benefits to this lack of interest. For instance, if my friends and family had taken more of an interest in my life during my time of need, I might not have had the necessary thirst for attention that motivated me to complete my book ‘Metaphysical Man The Don Quijote Of The Digital Age‘. Truth be told however, the negative results of this harmless neglect far out ways any positive benefit, especially for the silent majority of weak exploited masses of people who suffer daily without a voice. In the following article I will make the case that modern man views the unfortunate as a cockroach and not as a member of humanity. When a person steps on a cockroach it’s not out of hatred for the insect but rather out of a lack of interest in its well being. It’s nothing more than a pest that doesn’t fit in with our civilized society. I dedicate this article to the sweat shop workers, the human traffic victims, the poor, the uneducated, and the unfortunate that are exploited every day and suffer in silence while we drink our lattes and post selfies on Instagram.

For obvious reasons, I’ve been rereading ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka. For those unfamiliar with the story I’ll give a brief summary. Salesman Gregor Somsa wakes up one morning and finds that he’s somehow been transformed into a man-sized dung beetle. Kafka never refers to Gregor as a dung beetle rather it’s the cleaning woman that identifies him as one. The German word Kafka uses to describe what Gregor is transformed into is the same word the Nazis used to refer to Jews and other subhumans. The English rendering of the word is vermin. Once transformed into a vermin, Gregor finds it impossible to assume the responsibilities he was resigned to carry out; that of single-handedly providing for his parents and sister. As disturbing and unexplained as his physical metamorphosis was, what is even more disturbing to me is the immediate metamorphosis of his family’s attitude towards him. I could write volumes about my thoughts on this societal change but for the purposes of this article we’ll focus in on Gregor’s response to the societal change. 

In his current situation (even his voice is indiscernible to others) he is not in a position to rebuke his family and put them in their place. He could at least attempt an escape from the house in order to avoid further humiliation. He doesn’t however choose this option either. He meekly resigns himself to being treated as an insect. Many who read the story may not understand Gregor’s response and just write it off as Kafka being Kafka. Taking in stride absurd and unacceptable situations is a common trait of Kafka’s protagonists. Nevertheless I have a theory as to why Gregor Samsa reacts the way he does. I believe in fact, that it’s for the same reason the sweat shop workers, the human traffic victims, the poor, the uneducated, and the unfortunate meekly resign themselves to being exploited. It’s because despite how others view them, they know they are human beings. They have hope that humankind will look past their current situation and realize that inside they are human beings and not insects. They know and have confidence that the other members of humanity will also recognize that it is unacceptable to treat a human being like an insect. Too often however their response, much like Gregor’s, is seen as justification for their treatment. “If they are resigned to being treated as vermin,” we reason, “it must be because that’s what they are.” Perhaps we don’t think this openly and would certainly never voice such an opinion but we harbor this thought in the back of our mind. “After all,” we think. “If this were a member of the human family then there would be an outcry from humanity to stop the barbaric treatment. There is no outcry therefore there is no crisis. Anyways,” we conclude. “It’s none of my business.” At this point, if we’ve allowed ourselves to get to this point; our head may begin to ache and we quickly reach for one of the countless low-cost distractions, society has made available for just such occasions. 

Spoiler Alert; eventually Gregor dies as a result of neglect. Although Kafka doesn’t give details as to what was done with the corpse, the cleaning lady’s assurance; “you don’t have to worry about getting rid of that stuff in the next room. It’s all been taken care of,” leaves me with the impression that he was wrapped in something and thrown out with the garbage. The family’s immediate reaction to the distasteful news is annoyance, but after the fact, they are overjoyed that the entire ordeal is over and are determined to forget about the past. We are similarly annoyed when forced to acknowledge the existence of human atrocities and are happy to allow them to continue as long as they are hidden from view. “But William,” you exclaim in frustration. “I’m not the one committing such acts! I simply don’t care about them.” “And that’s the problem,” I respond.

I’m not encouraging anyone to take to the streets. The point of this article is to encourage us to take time away from our First World problems and consider how the other half live. If we imagine ourselves in their shoes we may be surprised to find that the words; “I don’t hate you. I just don’t care about you,” are a lot more aggressive than we intended them to be. Just some food for thought.

– William Chasterson 

50 thoughts on ““Why do you hate us?” “I don’t hate you. I just don’t care about you.””

  1. I tried sending the book reviews you requested, except some of the sites would not allow me to enter any reviews at all! Got a couple out. I tried, but unfortunately failed in my quest because some of the sites wouldn’t let me leave a review.

    Wasn’t made for King Arthur’s court anyway. Like chivalry and all but hate the concept of a chastity belt! I can defend myself, thank you very much. With my fully loaded flashlight or other items for self defense stashed through out our house. Try breaking in and walking out unharmed. I dare you! If nothing else the concept makes me break out laughing. Thanks for a good chuckle!
    Jeanette Hall

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know this is going to date me, but when I went to school teachers taught the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. If we followed that principle, our world would be a better place and we’d be kinder to one another. Just sayin!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you. Unfortunately society has deteriorated to the point that everyone just wants to be left alone. I was raised in a small town where everyone was friendly to each other but after years of city life you change. Most people probably feel they’re doing a good thing when they ignore others.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m concerned about the line where you write, “…the poor, the uneducated, and the unfortunate meekly resign themselves to being exploited.” This seems dehumanizing and critical. Would they, if you asked the people you write about, refer to themselves as “meek” or “resigned”? Would they even want to be written about as a problem to be solved instead of as a people to be embraced? And in your comparisons to vermin, I worry that you end up reinforcing the same stereotype you’re attempting to dispel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you find it troubling that I refer to people as poor uneducated and unfortunate. It means that you’re sensitive to the demoralizing of human beings. but I hope your not suggesting that it doesn’t exist. I’ve lived in the western world and now I’m living in the developing world and I write about what I see and experience on a daily basis.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m in no way suggesting that poverty doesn’t exist. I’m merely suggesting that linking “poverty” with “meekness” and “resignation” is incredibly problematic. You may be projecting first world ideals into a third world culture which would reject the idea of success being linked with money and/or property.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s not just poverty I’m making reference to in the article. I can definitely understand your point of view if you’re writing from the developed world. We put ourselves in their shoes and reason that we would be perhaps offended by my article if it were us. What you may not understand (because I didn’t understand it, and most people would find it hard to understand) is that before you can experience their righteous indignation first you have to be stripped of dignity like they are. I’m an African American living in a pariah state that is hostile to foreigners. I’ve received the same treatment that I’m writing about because they can’t tell by looking at me that I’m an American.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I think that is where we all get it mixed up. We look for the polar opposite to everything, when actually the opposite of love is not hate or hate the opposite of love. It’s indifference.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very thoughtful. Have you ever read GK Chesterton “William Cobbett”? My husband was commenting on related issues today. I have also gleaned much from our daughter serving on the Mercy Ship for a year.


  6. So many great social programs in the US were started because people cared about the poor (ie, public schools, social security, welfare). That sentiment is gone. Today, “the haves and the have nots” is a perfectly expected and accepted concept, but according to the bible the poor are with us to allow “the haves” to show kindness and compassion. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. William, thank you for finding me and following my art blog so I could discover you. This is hands down the best post I have ever read on WordPress. (I would also add that Gregor Samsa might also have symbolized the Jewish plight pre WWII, both of poor Jews esp in the East, seeking to avoid being overly noticed, as well as Jews in the West trying to assimilate and then outed as Jewish and suspect.) Your message is profound and true. Indifference and apathy toward others is a kind of evil. You find it in the solipsism and narcissism of a social media mirror gazing, but it also exists in collective group oriented societies (like Nazi Germany) when the collective group cares about each other but is taught to despise, ignore, and exclude, the out-group.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. William, this reminds me of a book you might find compelling: Black on Red: My 44 Years Inside the Soviet Union by Robert Robinson. He was an African American engineer who in 1930s Harlem decided to work in the USSR due to the Depression in the US and racial discrimination. In the USSR he became trapped for around 40 years and wrote this account of trying to survive Stalinism while also suffering from isolation, social exclusion, and a different brand of racism in the USSR than he had experienced in the US.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m not sure if the expression of apathy by masses of people is that much worse than hatred by masses. Both are dangerous, with apathy more common. Mass hatred leads to violence and it is a primal emotion, often probably pathological. Mass apathy has an inhuman quality which makes it so frightening. What does it stem from: primal urges for survival of the self (to the exclusion of others?), narcissism. I remember seeing a shocking documentary of Germans who the US soldiers forced to visit a death camp with lampshades made from human skin and the like. The Germans were so indifferent and dehumanized (did not see the Jews as human) that they were laughing and smiling as they walked back home. This can easily be compared with horrific images of white Americans gawking and smiling at lynchings during Jim Crow.


    1. I think in most cases like the ones you mentioned it was extreme hatred by relatively few combined with apathy from the masses. If the masses express even slight negative pressure the few usually back down. That’s why such atrocities start out slow to test the response of public opinion then little by little they gain momentum as the few realize they can get away with more and more. It’s the same thing little kids do to test the boundaries of their parents discipline.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A very thought provoking post and thank you for the posting. What we all forget is that we are all part of the same race, the human race, so we should all look out for each other. Except for the outter covering we are all the same, which we should look past and nurture the inner being.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great thoughts. Well written!!
    I’d be interested to know why you’re living in a third world country, being treated like a pariah. Apathy is one of our greatest ills today. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for it.
    For the record, I do hate cockroaches and mice.

    Liked by 1 person

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