How do we combat hatred?

The pursuits of a normal day are, for the most part, likely to be mundane and trivial, but put together they are what defines our lives. It is the little things that make the difference. Everyday interactions can be tedious or stimulating, humorous or upsetting, frustrating or heartwarming. They can be meaningful, thought-provoking, and occasionally life altering. Our everyday occurrences are worthy of sharing and celebrating. But it has been difficult to find worth in everyday pursuits when juxtaposed against the recent shootings in Orlando … let’s be clear, the massacre in Orlando. The enormity of the 15th mass shooting in the U.S. in the past 8 years, and some of the frightening responses to it, overwhelm the sensibilities. It feels disrespectful to the most recent victims – this time forty-nine LGBTQ young people – to shift back to the familiar rhythm of everyday life. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to put this horror aside, that would imply acceptance.

This shooting is a human tragedy on so many levels. It’s a tragedy for the 49 dead victims who were out enjoying themselves in what they considered a safe haven. It’s a tragedy on several levels for the family and friends they have left behind. It is a tragedy for those who were by some miracle spared, who are left feeling guilty to be alive while their friends were mowed down. It is yet another tragedy for the great country called the United States of America, which used to be able to view itself as a beacon of light for the world, where they just didn’t create economic successful, but welcomed people to come from all over to enjoy freedom and hope. And it is a tragedy for human beings everywhere more broadly, because we are forced once again to confront our apparently innate capacity to hate those we do not know.

What is this all about? Why do we not become more tolerant with each succeeding generation, as we get to know each other better? Why do so many people continue to believe that just because they happen to have been born with a certain skin tone, or a certain sexual orientation, or into a certain religion – through no effort of their own, no decision one way or the other – that they are somehow more acceptable than someone else?

Liberty.jpgPart of the poem by Emma Lazarus that graces the Statue of Liberty, and is often quoted to remind people of the U.S.’s commitment as a nation of immigrants, reads as follows:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to be free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

What happened to that noble sentiment, that ideal?

Last week the New York Times published statistics on hate crimes as compiled by the FBI for 2005 and 2014. One jaw-dropping and absolutely horrifying statistic presented was that in 2005, 60 years after a World War in which more than 10 million innocent, hard-working, peace-respecting Jewish men, women, and children were rounded up, tortured, and murdered for nothing more than their religion, Jews remained the #1 target of hate crimes in the U.S. What does that say about our capacity for compassion?

HateCrimesAnd now, ten years later, another group of people have moved up from target #2 to target #1, surpassing Jews in the number of hate crimes perpetuated against them. These are our LBGTQ friends, neighbours, family members, and colleagues. People who are targeted for nothing more than their sexual orientation. Once again, what does that say about our capacity for compassion?

The marginally good news is that according to these charts, the number of hate crimes actually decreased in that 10 year period. That was two years ago; sadly, my guess is that this is no longer the case. What can we do to combat hatred, which seems to come to people more easily than compassion?

There is an answer. We can support leadership that promotes understanding and compassion. We can reject leadership that feeds off fear and lack of understanding. We are better than this. “I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”



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8 Responses to How do we combat hatred?

  1. alesiablogs says:

    I thought your first paragraph so thought provoking. I love the ordinary this the main theme of my blog. Yet — we lose sight of so much when bad scenarios try to take center stage . We can not forget yet I pray we honor those and then begin again to find good in the world we live in.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Alesia. I’m pleased that you got my gist of the comparison between the everyday and the horror. You’re right, not only you but nearly all of us blog about the everyday, and that is where the value should be, because it is indeed what defines us and holds so much value. It just seemed so disrespectful to even think of writing about the everyday in the wake of yet another horrific act against yet another vulnerable group. Keep praying!

  2. Ajay Kaul says:

    Very well stated! Here the religious clergy need to step in stress the importance of tolerance – all of us are created equal and no one should consider themselves more privileged because of their birth.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Ajay. Sadly, too many members of the clergy preach quite the opposite. We’ve made progress, but we still have a long, long way to go.

  3. jennypellett says:

    Well said Jane. America can go some way by addressing their gun laws but the real issue here is of tolerance. Those FBI stats are horrific reading alone. Man’s inhumanity to man…

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Jenny. I decided to stay away from the gun laws. It seems so obvious to everyone else and so strangely embraced in the U.S.; that became frighteningly clear when 20 children were shot and killed in the safety of their own suburban school and still nothing changed. But the inflammatory rhetoric currently at play is so dangerous and upsetting, guns or no guns, and not just in the U.S., as we know only too well both in Canada and in the U.K. 😦

  4. jane tims says:

    I think intolerance is the greatest evil. We are all in this muddle together and the only way to make it through is to support and care for one another.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I completely agree, Jane. It seems so obvious and yet it is apparently a more difficult path than to continue to hate or distrust. A very sad commentary on mankind. We are indeed a work in progress. 😦

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