We seem to live our lives with a daily stream of racial, gender or religious bias. Catch the news any time and even on slow days, there’ll be some story that pits one group against another. Some outrage. Justified or not. There’s always something to get our collective anger riled.
Social media has made it easy for people to show their true colors across the world in a single tweet. And, it’s allowed us to respond moments later. All of us can sit behind a keyboard delivering whatever we think is just. We are all now judge and jury.
I wish things were different in some way. But, the truth is from time immemorial bigotry toward people who are deemed to be “different” (race, language, etc.) has permeated. It may seem more amplified now because of social media, but it’s always been there.
There have always been people who feel threatened because they don’t understand – or want to understand. To some, every one who is not like them presents a menace. In their minds, it all translates into challenges to their way of life or how they see the world. They deem difference as a threat against their values, their way of thinking, their way to make money, etc.
How far from true!
While I don’t have the solution to this abhorrent behavior, allow me to make some points in the hopes that it may help the conversation. Worldwide the incidents of racism, sexism and religious intolerance are so numerous that it seems to have always been a way of life.
Some intolerant individual does something outrageous and all of us demand and deliver our own brand of justice in the news and across social media. It’s a cycle that repeats unendingly.
Bigotry and division have been accepted. It doesn’t end and it doesn’t go away because we can’t eliminate the main drivers, fear and hate. Although I can probably speak the most about the United States because I have lived there for a long time, it’s disheartening to hear about the struggles that continue.
Recently, 9 people were murdered in a place of worship. When people are killed in what should be one of the safest places, a place of prayer, what else should be expected other than to think racism is ingrained?
Hatred doesn’t have a place in society. It robs us of everything dear and valued to us. People are robbed of their dreams and futures. Why does this have to exist? Is it because someone decided at one point in time that this is the way to be and that’s the status quo? Is it nature or nurture? I have to think most or all children are not born with hatred, bigotry or fear. These are learned behaviors. Someone has to instill fear into a child. Someone has to tell a child that another person who is black, or a girl or of a different religion is “bad”.
According to hate mongers, anyone who does not conform to the preconceived way of life needs to be looked upon with disdain. To them, everything that was not part of what they were brought up to believe is a threat to their life.
Gladiators In The Arena
In 2015, people should be more accepting. And, we need to do this directly by targeting the motivating forces of fear and hate.
We have conquered space and still can’t conquer ourselves and how we behave toward others. I believe that everybody should have the same opportunities in life no matter what his or her skin color, gender preference, affiliation, religion, etc. This world should not be a world for the few, the blue blooded, the “entitled” who reside in “bubbles” safe and sound while the rest of us fight it out as unruly crowds or gladiators in the arena. Unfortunately, many of us believe this is simply the way things are.
I don’t believe in violence in any way, shape or form. I believe in social justice and social good. The hard question is how can we achieve it? One step is by voicing our opinions; by making our opinions heard. The other is by directly addressing and talking about the tough stuff, the hate and drilling that down to the fear.
The Voice Of The Silent Majority
I was guilty of being a member of the silent majority. I was busy all of the time and I let things pass. But a friend brought this to my attention and I listened. Those who are discriminated against cannot do it alone. They need to have allies. We need to make our collective voice heard. We need to say we are sick and tired of injustice and lost opportunities because some of us happen not belong to the “right” group or class. There’s no such thing as the “right” group or class. We’re all human.
We need to engage and talk about it – no matter how difficult. But not entirely from our Facebook or Twitter feeds. We need to talk about it in person. We need to talk about it with our friends. We need to talk about it in the cafes. We need to talk about it with our loved ones and children. We need to create safe spaces to discuss the fear and start to work through the rot.
Tell people “no” to bigotry of any kind. “Yes” to equality for all. “Yes” to opportunities for everyone. “Yes” to hope. The world can be a better place if we allow it and all of us do our part in bringing all sides together.
Posted: July 13, 2015
© 2015 Savas Vikos all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Savas Vikos with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.