If we were having coffee I’d want to discuss how the world got another big dose of hate this past week with Charlottesville on August 11/12 and again in Barcelona on August 17.
Less than a week apart, these horrific events always leave me feeling sick and wondering if we ever truly recover. “We” being the vast majority of the human race who reject hatred and those who espouse it.
Sure, we’ll mourn the dead, pray for the injured, and clean up the debris. We’ll leave flowers, flags, and stuffed animals at the site of the massacre.
We’ll stand in solidarity with our candles to promote love and peace. And these are all necessary gestures to begin the healing process and restore a sense of normalcy back into our world.
But, can we really recover or feel hopeful knowing that it’s just a matter of time until the next terror attack?
I’m not sure, but Joan Baez said that “action is the antidote to despair.” And I agree.
Doing something always feels better than doing nothing. The sense of helplessness is overwhelming and often prevents us from taking any action.
So, what is that something?
Well, one way is to share news and articles that can educate and enlighten us regarding the problems we face. There’s a lot of (dare I say it) fake news out there.
We have to be careful regarding who our sources are. Of course, there are right and left-leaning outlets, but I’m talking about those who have established reputations versus those who don’t.
Other options for anyone wanting to lessen their feelings of despair come from the Southern Poverty Law Center who recently posted 10 ways to fight hate.
Regardless of what avenues we choose, we must do them in the spirit of compassion and understanding. I know that’s a very tall order and one I grapple with all the time. My first reaction, when faced with opposing opinions and ideologies, is pretty negative.
Obviously, many people struggle with these kinds of emotions. However, I don’t believe we can win the war on hate with hate.
The following article and information explain further.
It’s the story of Christian Picciolini, a former skinhead who renounced his relationship with the neo-Nazi movement in 1996.
He co-founded Life After Hate, whose mission statement says that they’re dedicated to inspiring individuals to a place of compassion and forgiveness, for themselves and for all people.
As a “lost and lonely” teenager, Christian was recruited by a white nationalist organization in the late 80s. He became the leader of a Chicago area group by age 16.
The birth of his first child when he turned 19 was the catalyst for breaking ties with the white supremacists, which occurred several years later.
He understands how young people fall prey to these types of hate-mongers.
Christian knows from his own experience that the youngsters are searching for three fundamental human needs: identity, community, and a sense of purpose. Those who don’t find this are the ones targeted by the hate groups.
You can walk into any high school and find those marginalized kids who’ve been bullied and/or dismissed by the majority.
They’re not accepted into the various cliques. They’re not good-looking enough, or athletically inclined, or smart enough.
They wear the wrong clothes and live in the wrong neighborhood. They may speak differently or be the wrong color.
That sense of rejection spawns feelings of worthlessness that eventually grow into anger. Left unchecked the anger swells into full-blown hate. Some will turn to drugs and alcohol. Others to crime.
Most will suffer in silence, turning their hate inward. But, some will lash out at others and seek retribution through any channel or group that offers them a feeling of security.
In the short video below, Christian tells the story of how, with the right approach and attitude, there can be life after hate. That approach includes compassion and communication with those we don’t understand.
There’s simply no room for hate when our platform is about acceptance and equal rights.