Multi-colored words on blackboard: respect, dignity, equality, etc.

It is clear that the way to heal society of its violence… and lack of love is to replace the pyramid of domination with the circle of equality and respect.  ~Manitonquat


Weekend Coffee Share: Is There Life After Hate?

Weekend Coffee ShareIf 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.

Former White Nationalist

Credit: Teresa Crawford/AP

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 Hatewhose 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.

Weekend Coffee Share: Charlottesville

Weekend Coffee ShareIf we were having coffee I’d want to tell you that I knew something bad was going to happen in Charlottesville this past weekend.

And I’m not referring to the usual vandalism and looting that often go along with protests and demonstrations.

The Friday night images of the “Unite the Right” demonstrators wielding torches evoked a distant memory. As they marched across the darkened UVA campus I was reminded of a scene from the 1931 movie Frankenstein.

Scene from Frankenstein movie (1931)-townspeople with torches

The townspeople in that story were on a mission to destroy a creature that they feared.

He had a kind and gentle nature but was “different” in appearance and behavior.

Based on these differences they made incorrect assumptions and treated him with hatred. Intimidated by his extremely large size and peculiar looks they labeled him a monster.

Eventually, he too became violent due to the hostility and maltreatment they had shown him. 

Without ever attempting to communicate and understand Frankenstein, they rejected him in the most contemptible way.

I think this is a part of prejudicial bigotry. It’s a fear of people and things that are unfamiliar or different. Without an earnest effort to discover why this fear exists there won’t be a conversation. And without a conversation, there won’t be a positive change.

Some of us grew up in homes that embraced diversity in all its forms. Everything from race and religion to clothing and food. We were taught tolerance and a healthy respect for other people and their cultures.

It was okay to be different. After all, the Declaration of Independence guarantees ALL human beings certain inalienable rights.

This doesn’t mean we have to agree with everyone else’s choice regarding lifestyle and belief system. As long as their rights don’t supersede yours and everyone enjoys equality; live and let live.

When we encountered other people or ideas that were different it evoked curiosity, not fear or suspicion. We learned the “do unto others” adage and applied it in everyday life.

Sadly, some of us were taught to fear anything that was contrary to our norms.

Those differences were immediately suspect and we were encouraged in our paranoia and sense of superiority. 

Rather than learn about and understand other races and religions, we turned a wary eye.  Acceptance of individuals outside our belief system would weaken our exclusive groups and mixed marriages would dilute our lineage, robbing us of our true identity. 

 But, what is our true identity?

Is it how we dress and talk? Is it defined by our facial features?

No, I believe it’s internal. Not determined by physical attributes, but rather by the content of one’s character as Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently stated. Our minds and hearts make up the intrinsic part of our identities. 

The external parts of our identity are things like our legal name, address, credit score, and the entire paper trail we’ve established since our birth certificates were issued. It’s our material goods and assets. It’s the shape of our noses and our ability to tan or burn without sunscreen.


A person can suffer a terrible accident resulting in extensive disfigurement. Various types of cosmetic surgery can drastically change one’s appearance. Modifications to any part of our physical bodies can alter one’s looks and change the outward presentation.

But, it can’t change who we really are: our ideologies, beliefs, personalities, emotional intelligence, etc.

I would urge anyone who judges others based on skin color, religion, or life philosophy to make a concerted effort to get to know the person.

Let go of the fear associated with the unfamiliar. Educate yourself regarding other cultures, religions, and human beings. Learn and become familiar.

You might discover that the commonalities outnumber the differences. And the differences can actually enrich your life in ways you never dreamed possible.