Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When Hatred Rears It's Ugly Head - Some Solutions

Hate is like acid. It can damage the vessel in which it is stored as well as destroy the object on which it is poured. - Ann Landers

What can we do about changing racist attitudes? It takes courage to make change in attitudes and guts to be able to stand up to the bullies of the world.

Racism and hatred are usually based on ignorance or lack of understanding. There are so many things that we can do on a daily basis if we become committed to make a change.
Here is a list of suggestions that are quite easy to start with:

Knowledge is power – Do you follow a specific religion ? All of the major faiths have statements against hatred of others and racism. Do you know what your sacred book says? (The Holy Bible, Vedas, Koran, Sunnah, Agama, Talmud, Hebrew Bible and the Sutta Pitaka)
Read and learn. If you believe in a higher power then pray for those who are persecuted and those who do the persecuting.

Become aware of ethnic stereotypes - Challenge the offensive names, jokes and comments. If someone uses a hurtful name in our presence, we might simply say, "Don't call them that. Call them by their name." If you are the victim, simply say "That kind of joke offends me," or say "You don't like to be called bad names and neither do I". We should become comfortable in pointing out unfairness. Be polite but firm. Ethnic jokes are not innocent humor, they carry the virus of bigotry most of the time.

Educate yourself about other cultures - and the history of the Civil Rights Movement and other non-violent struggles for justice. Read what authors from various ethnic backgrounds have written to gain positive insights into other cultures.

Speak up - If you should witness an act of hatred let someone know about it. Report it to the authorities if necessary. Be courageous in standing up for what is right. Be supportive of the victim(s).

Share your joy - Have you ever invited people other than your cultural group at an occasion of happiness in your family? Whether it's a wedding or the blessing of a newborn baby, expand your next guest list to include those of different backgrounds. Sharing joy is a great way for people of all ethno-cultural groups to bond.

Share your sorrow - Have you visited a sick colleague, class fellow or a neighbor of another ethnic group? Have you been to the funeral of one from another culture? Relationships are not only built on the good times, but on the hard ones as well. Visit the sick, attend funerals, and console those who need it, and don't reserve your sympathy to those of the same skin color or country. Learn the meaning of the various traditions and rituals that may be different from your own. You don't have to adopt the customs but it is important to know about them.

Break bread with others - It is said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Have you learned to cook the food of other cultures? Have you shared your food with them? Food is a great way to bring people together, and to get to know others. Share food with your neighbors. Learn about which foods are not eaten by certain faiths, for example meat or pork.

Who do you smile at? Do you limit your grins to groups you know, especially your ethno-cultural group? Smiles open closed hearts.

Teach your children - Make sure that your children are exposed to other cultures. Studies show that children playing and working together toward common goals develop positive attitudes about one another. Raising hate free children is a challenge. Make sure that your children do not absorb the negative attitudes of some who practice discrimination on a regular basis.

Welcome strangers - How are you at welcoming strangers in your place of worship? Do you move forward in welcoming, guiding and introducing them to others or do you allow a stranger to remain a stranger while you busily chat with your own cultural group?

Watch those expressions and attitudes - Did you see that twist of the mouth, or the raise of that eyebrow? Sometimes, it's not just words, but facial expressions that also indicate ethno-racial degradation and intolerance. It's not enough for us to just avoid verbal jabs. Language is not just about words; it's about body language too.

Stand up for justice - Take an active stand against injustices like profiling and discrimination in the workplace or at schools. Speak out in support for someone or a group being paid less because of their national background.

Volunteer - Work with other anti-racism groups - Volunteer time to organizations and groups which are working for an anti-racism agenda or for social justice. Put your time and energy to projects that put your beliefs into practice.

Overcome your own personal stereotypical beliefs - this is not just for the European culture. This is something that all cultures learn along the way - unlearn some of the things you were taught.

I could write at least 50 or more suggestions but if you practice a few of these you will find that your life has become more enriched.

I have lived in, and travelled to many countries and have always found that there are more similarities than differences with other people. We all want the best for our children, to be able to financially support our families and to be able to have freedom of choice in our faith.

We must stand up for each other - it is the right thing to do.
"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I often say that we all want the same thing. We all want to be loved. All over the world and no matter what things are different, everyone wants to be loved. Crystal