June 19, 2015

Beyond Charleston: Racism is Learned, so Let’s Stop Teaching It.


It appears an understatement to say that acts of terror are all about fear.

But I’m just not talking about the obvious fear on the part of the victims and others affected. I’m also talking about the fear on the part of the assailants. They are motivated towards heinous acts of violence because of fear.

And these fears are founded in ignorance and bigotry.

It doesn’t matter what the bigotry targets—gender, race, sexuality, religious beliefs—the root cause comes down to fear. Because we do not understand one another.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ Nelson Mandela

The way to eradicate racism and other forms of bigotry obviously lies in cultural education. And that has to come from the ground up. The realignment of cultural values—ensuring zero tolerance for any form of bigotry as a new cultural norm—is not likely to come from the top down.

A revolution is called for if a radical shift is to occur. A cultural revolution, whereby we teach one another to honor and respect all beings—and not only those who look like and sound like us. Not just paying lip service to the notion of respect, but walking the talk every single day and showing our kids by example what respect for all beings really means.

It’s kind of obvious really. Each person needs to take a mindful stance in their own day-to-day lives. Stop minding our own business and start minding the business of the community as a whole. If we don’t like the status quo, if we believe it to be harmful to the greater good of all, then we need to individually do whatever we personally can to help—slowly, but surely—effect a transformation in societal attitudes. We need to stop tolerating bigotry and instead seek ways to kindly and gently point out another perspective—a more loving point of view.

How we do that will be different for everyone. For some, it will be outright activism. But it doesn’t need to be that. It can be done through our day-to-day conversations with others. Speaking up, instead of biting our tongues so as not to rock the boat. Speaking up in a respectful manner towards the person holding a contrary viewpoint, but also with respect for the rights of those we witness being denigrated.

Baby steps can be effective. A gentle word can alter someone’s perspective. Don’t remain silent when you see injustice being perpetrated.

We can fight the good fight, non-violently.


Bonus: Jon Stewart reaction to Charleston shootings.

Racism: Our History Drips Blood

How I Stopped Contributing to Racism

How we can wake up to our own true nature:

Author: Hilda Carroll

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wikimedia

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