How We Can Do Better In The Aftermath Of Hate
“Who is wise? One who learns from every person. Who is strong? One who subdues one’s evil inclination. Who is rich? One who is happy with one’s lot. Who is to be honored? One how honors others.” – Pirket Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers) 4:1
This passage is a bridge between our values and our experiences of daily life. And daily life, while it has always been painful, now seems to be an endless reminder of the worst humans can be. Rage-filled people within our own communities turn on us with hate and violence. Our leaders will not put aside their desire to “win” and best each other and by doing so sacrifice common good and decency.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the constant ugliness, fear, and anger. It is so disappointing to see people in positions of authority offer cliche platitudes as if their words offer any kind of substantive and comforting response.
We are in a battle. Not against each other but against our own fear and anger. We will only begin to win if we do the hard work of facing our fears and demanding ethical courageous leaders.
Treating people with dignity is easy when things are good. When it really matters is when you are angry, when you feel justified to lash out, when you feel that you are defending someone you love. As this week’s acts of domestic terrorism affect so many and undermine our sense of safety, well-being, and belief in the common good, we know that we must speak to power and demand that our leaders act for the good of our communities and our country. Our call for dignity is not naive. It is as written above, subduing one’s evil inclination to dominate is hard work.
We will repair our communities. We will support each other who demand civil discourse and personal responsibility. We will support each other who speak against the incivility, inhumanity, and fear-mongering surrounding us. We will support each other to build communities of dignity where disagreement is welcome and mockery, deceit, and humiliation of others is rejected.
This is our only choice.
Here are some resources to talk about hate with young people:
- Family conversations about hate incidents, terrorism and bias-motivated violence and lesson plans from the Anti-Defamation League.
- Making Caring Common offers tips for parents and educators on how to talk to kids about the unthinkable events in life with your kids.
- Teaching Tolerance’s list of lesson plans and information on why and how we must talk about hate so we do not normalize it.
- Facing History and Ourselves has an excellent list of antisemitism & religious intolerance resources for middle and high schools students.