Friday, February 26, 2010

Hatred - and ways to stop it -- start with a quiz

Hatred has become a part of the fabric of everyday life. From the web to Congress, from casual remarks over paper cups of coffee to snide remarks over cocktail glasses, hatred can be found lurking. Hate crimes in America continue to rise. But some people are working to stop it, and we can join them.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has just produced a publication called Ten Ways to Fight Hatred that can be printed from their site, or ordered in quantity. It speaks pragmatically of things that can be done in one's community. The Guide Introduction says, in part:

Whether you need a crash course to deal with an upcoming white-power rally, a primer on the media or a long-range plan to promote tolerance in your community, you will find practical advice, timely examples and helpful resources in this guide. The steps outlined here have been tested in scores of communities across the nation by a wide range of human rights, faith and civic organizations. Our experience shows that one person, acting from conscience and love, is able to neutralize bigotry. Imagine, then, what an entire community, working together, might do.

10 Ways to Fight Hatred

DIG DEEPER (Look inside yourself for prejudices and stereotypes.)

That is the area I'd like to discuss here, with you -- Digging Deeper. Take a deep breath and quietly as yourself the ten questions below (inspired by the SPLC). Hatred, prejudice, bias -- they are all like glue, and we may have rubbed up against some and gotten some on us, or inside our thoughts.

And, unwittingly, we may have passed these ideas on to our children. That compounds the tragedy. The roots of hatred, however thin or thick, need to be routed out. The stakes are too high not to do the work. The world we will pas to the next generations -- will they say that we helped heal the hatred?

Partners Against Hate has released some frightening statistics about hate crimes and youth:

33% of all known hate crime offenders are under 18
31% of all violent crime offenders and 46% of the property offenders are under 18.
29% of all hate crime offenders are 18-24.
30% of all victims of bias-motivated aggravated assaults and 34% of the victims of simple assault are under 18.

We live in a culture that serves up prejudice in insidious ways. We all need to muster up the courage to look inside to see, or we can never heal ourselves, or our world. Think through these and track them back - imagine how your answers to any of them may have affected the way you view others.

10 Questions that Dig Deeper

1. If you believe in God, and you suddenly imagine an image of a person to represent God, what color is he/she?
2. Have you ever passed along an email with "redneck jokes"?
3. Have you ever told a gay joke? a joke about illegal immigrants? a joke about a fat person? ethnic jokes?
4. How many people not of your race are in your personal address book?
5. When you think "terrorist" - what religion is that person?
6. Have you ever asked a friend or work colleague not to tell a sexist,racist, ethnic or homophobic joke in your presence?
7. How often are you in the minority - ethnically, racially, religious, income level, or by sexual preference?
8. When you learn about another group, where do you get your information - from members of that group or from a third party group that may bring their own limits with them?
9. Do you speak differently of members of another group if they are in the conversation with you, as opposed to when they are absent?
10. Have you ever clumped all members of a group together with a negative value statement? ("All Irish are...", "Muslims are...". "Those immigrants...")

Everyone is going to find something on that list to fix. Everyone has some time when they have not spoken up, or when they have spoken badly. But that was then. Now is now. Fixing the problems in our troubled world runs concurrently with fixing the problems inside ourselves.

The stakes are so very high. We are all part of the human family, unique, but connected. Our futures are each inexorably bound up with each other's well-being.



Teahing Tolernce.Org has a list of children's books that can be used to teach tolerance across all ages.

Partners Against Hate has a list of resources for communities, families and schools.

The Charter For Compassion focuses on compassion as a vehicle for social justice and change.

The Forgiveness Project is a global spiritual effort to heal hatred.



"I have fought too long and hard against discrimination
based on race and color, and I'm not about to stand by and not
fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I want to
create a national beloved community where we can enhance the dignity
of all humankind."

-- John Lewis, Congressman and Civil Rights pioneer

"Prejudices are what fools use for reason."

(simultaneously published at


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