Fear and hatred of the other is the language of demagogues and their dupes. Many people are not persuaded by obvious lies and are not suspicious of their neighbors and have an aversion to hatred. So the demagogue stokes the fears of the gullible and the anger of the bigoted, identifies targets for those looking for scapegoats and so forms a bloc to stand against the reasonable population.
It is not possible to hate someone we respect, so the targeted other must be cast as unworthy of respect. The demagogue and his mob impugn the values of the other, his language or race or culture and certainly, his aims. The demeaned “them” is then held to be morally inferior to the idealized “us.” The other then becomes less human than we are and unworthy of respect. We can then be persuaded that we are morally freed – or even obliged – to harm the other.
Leverage must have been one of the first great discoveries of humankind. Humans discovered that the effects of effort could be multiplied. The demagogue leverages fear and hatred. Fear of the other that begins insubstantially with no basis in fact can cascade up through the system until there becomes real reason to fear, because now the other has real reason to fear and so takes steps against us. Of course, the process is often mutual, not unilateral. The lust for power over others is a steady feature of human history.
Some years ago I attended a talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Boston. His thesis was that there can be no peace between those who fear and mistrust each other.
“in a ditch” portrays the ends of mutually reinforcing fear and hatred. But there is a thread of redeeming sanity also present in the piece. I am still tempted to call the poem Resurrection.