“Hatred we can manage. The tension of human nerves during noise, danger, and fatigue,makes them prone to any violent emotion and it is only a question of guiding thissusceptibility into the right channels. If conscience resists, muddle him…But hatred is best combined with Fear…Hatred has its pleasures. It is therefore often the compensation by which a frightened man reimburses himself for the miseries of Fear. The more he fears, the more he will hate. And Hatred is also a great anodyne for shame.” Screwtape
No-one builds a house or an enterprise and then deliberately pulls it down or through negligence allows it to be destroyed. Why then would The Creator build a world and sit by idly while it is being ravaged? During the week, former US Secretary of State, Madeline Albright made a statement that could be interpreted as an accusation against The Creator, for it is His World, after all. She spoke the mind of many (honest) people when she complained that ‘the world is a mess!’ She said, and I agree, that, “there are an awful lot of things going on that need understanding and explanation.”
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis records the strategic advice which Screwtape, a senior devil, gives to his nephew Wormwood, on how to frustrate the Christian experience of his subject, ‘the patient’. (Essentially, the human can be substituted for ‘the patient’ and Religion for the Christian experience.) The book is written from Screwtape’s perspective, and God becomes “The Enemy” and “Our Father’s House” is not heaven but hell.
Armed with centuries of experience, Screwtape reveals to the green and inexperienced Wormwood the psychology of the human and suggests to him how best to manipulate the weakness of humans. The secret? An understanding of the superiority of hatred over love.
The key to successfully diverting the human from the true purpose of religion is to fixate the human on hatred because hatred can be used to magnificent effect by The Force opposed to human existence and coexistence. If the human conscience should endeavour to defeat the influence and power of hatred, the next strategy is to confuse the human by convincing him of the morality of his hatred, persuading him to believe that his hatred is justified, right and necessary. The stronger the hatred, the more righteous it is.
Hatred by itself is an effective weapon in diverting the human from God’s Cause, but when combined with fear its effectiveness is magnified many times over. Fear has torment you see, and it is shameful, but camouflaged by hatred, fear is cloaked with the mask of respect and dignity.
And so, Boko Haram justify their hatred, shrouding their unholy jihad with the garment of the righteous indignation of Shekau’s god. Israel and Hamas perpetuate the war in Gaza, justifying their unconscionable savageries while protesting their innocence and blaming each other for instigating the need to retaliate in the first place. And Nigerians, depending on which side of the religious divide they belong to, are either supporting Israel and condemning Hamas or vice versa.
Screwtape warns Wormwood to not allow ‘the patient’ to wander into the realm of reason.
“The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy’s ownground. He can argue too; whereas in really practical propaganda of the kind I am suggesting He has been shown for centuries to be greatly the inferior of Our Father Below. By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient’s reason; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result?”
Therefore, Screwtape admonishes Wormwood to do all he can to discourage and distract ‘the patient’ from reasoning. If the human is allowed to think, he would form the obvious conclusion that kidnapping girls and turning them into sex slaves or killing innocent civilians is sheer wickedness. Heaven forbid that that should happen. No! By all means, the human must not be allowed to exercise his reasoning faculties; best to let him dwell on hatred. For you see, love and compassion are actually reasonable emotions. Loving your neighbour as yourself means respecting another person’s right to life and respecting their humanity. Why, reason would actually require the human to be human. No! The human must not be allowed to think, for if he is allowed to do so, he would end up promoting the Cause of the Creator. He would end up making love, not war.
Ms. Ishaya Audu, a lawyer, school administrator, and member of the Premium Times editorial board maintains a Friday column on politics, policy, culture, and the Nigerian life. She writes from Abuja.