If you’re like me, you feel very sad and also angry about the hate-induced shooting of a security guard at the DC Holocaust Museum.
How can we respond to such incidents? How, if at all, can we comfort ourselves, comfort children around us, and do something to make such things less likely to happen?
I think we have to bring it home to ourselves, to our hearts and minds. We have to remember that hatred is borne of ignorance; this means we must confront it when we can. Do you have a racist or otherwise hate-filled relative? Do you say anything to him or her? Is there an unspoken rule that nobody in the family confronts this hate? Is this hate spewed around children for them to absorb and perhaps grow up believing? Are racial, ethnic, or other kinds of epithets used regularly as though they are acceptable? is hate-speech focused on gender either about women or men used? This is just as damaging; for example the language used in the Pick-Up Artist (PUA), “Game”, and “Seduction” industry and community is extremely denigrating, hateful and abusive towards women.
The cost of hate is paid by everyone, not just those who are offended by it. As an HR/OD professional, I am often amazed at how many people apparently still use words at home with their families that are not allowed in the workplace or in schools. My question is why use them at all?
I have had uncles, cousins, and a grandfather who used hateful words about people of different races and ethnicities, and I found it reprehensible. As a child, I found it disturbing and also confusing. I remember asking my mother when I was around 12 if my uncle was the same religion we were. When she said that he was, I was further confused. How can a person who uses such hateful language about other human beings and who means it call themselves a christian? This was a man who went to church daily.
It is time for us to confront hatred in those around us. Not just in workplaces and in schools, but in our families and with our friends. Sometimes this hatred shows up in language and sometimes it shows up in forwarded email jokes.
How can we do this? We can say, “I need to let you know that I’m really uncomfortable with what you just said (or with that email you sent me). I think that making racially-based jokes only perpetuates hate and ignorance, and I don’t think they’re funny.”
Try it and see what happens. If people who speak like this hear this enough, it may occur to them that it isn’t just their speech or jokes that are problematic but their thinking that is problematic – which IS the case.
Racism, Sexism, and other “isms” are based in ignorance and selective data-collection. They are also based in fear: fear of difference, fear of the unknown, and fear of humanity and connection with others.
The Unitarian Universalist Church has a long history of anti-racist work. See the UUA website on this blog’s blogroll. What are other religions doing to address these issues? Something? Nothing? These are core issues for humans everywhere. Churches, schools, workplaces, and families MUST address the issue of hate, hate-speech, and hate-actions.
Does your child’s playmate use hate speech? Say something to the child and to the child’s parent(s). If the parents are not appalled, allow the child to play with your child, but only at your home. Do not allow your child in a home that accepts hate. And make it clear to the child that hatred is not welcome in your home or around your family.
Does a relative use hate speech? Say something to them privately. Write a letter or have a conversation. Ask that it stop. Ask to listen to this person’s feelings and thoughts on the matter, and do your best to educate this person out of the ignorance they are in.
Does someone at work use hate speech? Let them know it bothers you and is not allowed at work.
Does someone send you hate-based emails or “jokes”? Ask them to not include you in such topics.
Are you dating someone who uses hate-speech or tells racist, sexist, or otherwise hateful “jokes”? Tell them you can’t be involved with someone who thinks that way.
When more people take a direct, assertive stand against hate, those who do hate will see just how unwelcome and unacceptable it is.
If you hate or find yourself laughing at a racist joke, talk to a counselor and challenge yourself to understand how hate harms everyone of us. Imagine if you were dying and needed an organ donation and a person of another color or race wound up being your donor. Imagine if the only doctor who knew how to save you was of another race or color or religion. Imagine if someone of anther race, religion, or color saved the life of someone you love. Actions like these happen every day.
What can you do to address and stop hate around you? What WILL you do?