(A Companion piece to An Essay In Belief)
There’s no bigger waste of time than hate and prejudice. The media in their quest to report the news, or more accurately get ratings, pump out the hate-filled, violent-laden video packages for everyone to look at and say, “Wow, that’s scary.”
And to a certain extent it is. But I often wonder how better off we’d all be if the good got as much coverage as the bad. As humans we need to be informed of what’s going on around us but not everything is bad all the time.
I believe a lot of the news media sources can be giant propaganda machines for hate. You would think in the year 2016 we’d be so evolved that racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia etc. would be things of the past like polio or small pox. But like polio and small pox some people refuse to inoculate their children against prejudice. Like any disease, prejudice festers and infects our society.
Immigration is a huge topic now. Nothing makes me more upset than the way people treat and talk about immigrants. With talk of building walls and banning people based on their religious beliefs heard daily, it seems to me people aren’t thinking too clearly on this one.
The world has suffered much at the hands of ISIS, and that makes people scared. But I’ve said it before many times, ISIS doesn’t equal Muslim and vice versa. People would punish an entire religious group for the actions of a small percentage.
Now take me for example. I am three generations on my father’s side from Italian immigrants. That’s not a lot. That’s just me, my dad, and his parents. Now imagine for a second that people took note that with the Italian people came an upswing in organized crime* and they said “That’s it, no more Italians.” Whether you recognize it or not it’s the exact same thing; punishing one group for the actions of a few. Not all Italians are involved in organized crime and not all Muslims are terrorists. Not every Italian is Al Capone and not every Muslim is Osama Bin Laden.
The list can go on forever. Hey, remember what those Nazis did? Alright, no more Germans. Do you know how many people died at the hands of Christians? You’re right, no more Christians. Did you know the English started a war with France that lasted 100 years? That’s a really long time, no more British.
The simple fact is that none of our ancestors’ hands are completely clean. So if the rule was to judge all by some none of us would be here. That’s the lesson that younger generations need to be taught. None of us are any more or less entitled to this land. We’re all squatters on stolen property.
We welcome people here with open arms because it’s what we do. It’s what we’ve always done. Immigrants aren’t here to take anything away from anyone. They want the same opportunities we and our ancestors have been afforded since we landed here.
But I want everyone taking the time to read this to pay really close attention to this part. Our ancestors that came here, all of them, were running from something. So if you can look at a war-displaced refugee and hate them, you are a hypocrite of the highest level. You should thank whomever it is you thank that you’ve A) never been in the situation where you had to run for your life or B) that you possess a blissful ignorance that doesn’t give you the imagination to put yourself in those people’s shoes.
When you decide I hate that person, or I don’t want them around me, those are decisions that are made out of fear and hate. If you look at someone and say I hate him because he’s black, you are a racist. If you stop hanging around a friend because she’s a lesbian, you’re a homophobe. If you ignore someone in need because they’re, in your eyes, not American, you are a xenophobe. If you say she can’t do that and doesn’t deserve the same pay, you’re a sexist. If you do any of these, you’re spreading hate for no good reason.
Here’s the key, this isn’t an either/or kind of thing. If you hate black people but believe women should have equal pay that doesn’t make you any less of a racist. If you say I don’t hate gay people they just better not hit on me, you’re still a homophobe. And when you say a person can’t get married, can’t enter your business, can’t fly on a plane or use the bathroom they feel comfortable in, you’re acting on fear and hate. Those issues are in you, they’re things you need to reconcile without infringing on someone else’s right to live. It’s best to dig down real deep and ask yourself does this much negativity even make any sense.
Now I said up above this was a companion piece to my religion piece. As I discussed in that I’m not religious by any stretch of the imagination but for any religious folk out there this is for you from Leviticus 19:34.
The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
Foreign can mean strange and unfamiliar. If you find yourself ever saying I hate that person. Ask yourself why. If the answer is it’s because they’re different, they’re strange and unfamiliar, maybe it’s time to open up your mind and heart and learn a little something about the other people inhabiting this planet. We’re all still learning and it’s never too late to let hate go.
*this is just an example. I am neither confirming nor denying upswings in organized crime and their relationship to Italians.