‘Sit down and shut up.’
Too often, it seems like the most prudent advice. In a world so chock full of contradicting thoughts and overt hatred—how are we to parse out truth from nonsense and be sure we take the right stand? It’s no small task, and all too frequently the safest bet seems to be sitting on the sidelines—unwilling to take a stand one cannot fully commit to.
In our recent article, ‘Why You Should Seek Contrary Friendships’ (Link), we discussed the importance of expanding our social circles in order to enhance our understanding of the world and diversify our own perspective on life.
But sometimes, this proactive effort falls short in the face of modern reality. While growing ourselves and seeking higher understanding is undoubtedly among the keys steps to squashing hatred in its tracks, it isn’t always the most expedient.
Some deem it best to bow out if they are not directly involved, but this is misled. It is incumbent upon any decent man or woman to endeavour always to speak out in the name of what is right, even—or especially—when doing so seems the most difficult path. It is precisely this individual fortitude of character which empowers the world as a whole to take a stand for decency, while it is the lewd and cowardly act of sitting impotently on the fence which enables hatred to take root.
So let it be known: when it comes to the condemnation of hatred and intolerance, inaction IS a stance, and silence DOES speak.
When we witness acts of hatred or intolerance, it is the duty of anyone who values virtue to speak up loudly, to call it out by name and make clear that there is no place for such atavistic atrocities in our world.
It may not stop such vile acts forever, but it will certainly make a difference to the present victim.
What about the long term, then? Is it a reasonable goal to eliminate—or even substantially reduce—the hatred so malignant in this world, and if so, what will it take?
Certainly, to seek its total elimination seems perhaps over-ambitious. But if we are to effectively enact its reduction, the best strategy may be the concurrent elimination or reduction of fear.
Yes, fear is most often the driving force behind hatred: Fear of the unknown, the foreign—the strange and the different. Fear of anything which makes us step back and experience the world outside the comfort of the familiar. After all—that which is different presents us with a sudden and startling awareness of our own unlimited options—and that can be a lot to handle for the simple-minded zealots most likely to cling to such divisive rhetoric.
The above may seem like a hateful or derisive over-simplification in and of itself, but I don’t think it’s far off base. Hatred is bred from fear, and fear itself is most often the product of ignorance.
The ultimate goal then, can only be education. Not teaching people WHAT to think per say, but rather teaching them HOW: How to think critically. How to evaluate facts. How to consider other perspectives.
As discussed in the article cited above (Link), it is by the constant challenging and re-evaluation of our own innate assumptions that we learn to better understand the views of others. Without this, we are left to blindly fear the dark—assuming that only terror can be held beyond the short sight-lines of our own stunted knowledge.
It must be clear however, to any thinking person, that such assumptions are faulty from the start. Few indeed are those who would willingly seek chaos over comfort, or cruelty over kindness. All sides of every debate must follow this same advice—to learn about the other, to understand their fears, and to evaluate with reason and unbiased ration their own contributions to the present state. We must seek to unite in our common truths, rather than draw lines in the sand over perceived differences.
Then, and only then, can we hope to live in a world less fraught with hatred and disdain, and embrace instead a future of understanding and opportunity for all.
-Brad OH Inc.