Crafting Gentleness

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Rather, I see it as my task to expose the roots of hatred ..."

"We are so used to perceiving everything we hear in terms of moralizing rules and regulations that sometimes even pure information may be interpreted as a reproach and thus cannot be absorbed at all. We justifiably resist new exhortations if moral demands were frequently imposed on us at too young an age. Love of one's neighbor, altruism, willingness to sacrifice - how splendid these words sound and yet what cruelty can lie hidden in them simply because they are forced upon a child at a time when the prerequisites for altruism cannot possibly be present. Coercion often nips the development of these prerequisites in the bud and what then remains is a lifelong condition of strain. This is like soil too hard for anything to grow in, and the only hope at all of forcibly producing the love demanded of one as a child lies in the upbringing given one's own children, from whom one then demands love in the same merciless fashion.

"For this reason, it is my intention to refrain from all moralizing. I definitely do not want to say someone ought or ought not to do do this or that (for example, ought not to hate), for I consider maxims of this sort to be useless. Rather, I see it as my task to expose the roots of hatred, which only a few people seem to recognize, and to search for the explanation of why there are so few of these people."

Alice Miller, For Your Own Good: The Roots of Violence in Child-rearing (1987)


Post a Comment

<< Home