The Anatomy of Hate; A Dialogue to Hope reveals the shared narratives found in individual and collective ideologies of hate, and how we as a species can overcome them. For six years the filmmaker worked with unprecedented access to some of the most venomous ideologies and violent conflicts of our time including the White Supremacist movement, Christian Fundamentalism as an anti-gay platform, Muslim Extremism, the Palestinian Intifada, Israeli Settlers and Soldiers, and US Forces in Iraq. By juxtaposing this verite footage with interviews from leading sociological, psychological, and neurological experts, and interspersing stories of redemption told by former “combatants”, the film weaves a tapestry that reveals both the emotional and biological mechanisms which make all of us susceptible to acts and ideologies of hate, and demonstrates how these very same traits make us equally capable of overcoming them...
I believe that to be an active participant on this spinning rock we call home, one must continually strive to define his or her vision of a “better world." At first glance, it’s easy to define a better world as one without war, violence, or hate – what is not easy is translating that vision into reality.
The first step, as with any problem, is to develop an intimate understanding of its main facilitators. For this, most people turn to institutions such as politics, religion, and national, racial, or sexual identity. However, since the intended or unintended consequences of these institutions are the division of all of humanity into either inclusionary or exclusionary categories, they are fairly useless paradigms when the goal is unification. Their continued use as viable paths to conflict resolution is the reason history has and will continue to repeat itself. (See Einstein’s definition of insanity.) Therefore I have chosen to look at the psychological, physiological and biological mechanisms shared by our entire species, mechanisms which inform the creation of the afore-mentioned institutions.
Standing amidst anti-gay picketers and Nazi rallies, dodging stones and rubber bullets in the West Bank, riding combat patrols outside of Baghdad, and working amidst the bodies of dying and deceased soldiers in the CASH, I was provided the opportunity to explore humanity's inclusionary and exclusionary divisions to a significant degree.
What I found was, for me, life changing. There was no boogieman, no devil, nor any person(s) of evil at the center of all this violence, war, and hate. Instead I found a planet full of creatures doing their best to fill the void of existence with limited psychological tools, and emotional shortcomings – myself included. And instead of embracing these shortcomings and using them as empathetic links to our fellow men, I discovered that we are tucking them into the shadows of our psyche, turning them into mythological jabberwockies that we can project onto others, declaring those 'others' as inferior, evil, or deserving of death. Then we use God, nationalism, or any other cultural concoction as rationalizations for this insanity, oblivious that in doing such we are tapping into the same primitive thought patterns which we have just condemned our “enemies” for espousing. It is an overwhelming cycle when judged by the pain, death, and destruction it has caused.
However, in this “human” process, I also found hope. Hope that if man creates hate, he can also un-create it. And indeed I met some amazing people doing just that – overcoming their cultural software to reach across “enemy lines” and humanize the de-humanized. To meet people like this is to realize that just as the bad choices are founded on human behaviors, so are the good. And to me, that is hopeful.
More then anything, I believe, it is dialogue that will move us past the barriers of fear, cultural conditioning, and stereotype thinking – into an understanding aligned with the eternal truth that we are all one. It is my highest vision that this film, and it’s core concepts, will serve as a catalyst for that dialogue.
Nothing can change without understanding. Nothing will change without hope. I believe this film offers both.