Hate and fear leads to violence and in some cases dehumanization. In the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. On the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, we are seeing huge crowds at the 2nd Women’s march all over the nation.
I was honored to be a speaker at last year’s women’s march in Walnut Creek-East Bay, the largest I have seen in my 30 plus years living in the area. the video is too large for uploading onto this post but I will include portions of the speech here.
The energy at these rallies has been amazing. Linda Sarsour, co-chair of the national movement has been a tireless worker to bring about social justice, not just for women, but for the increasingly marginalized minorities- African Americans, immigrants, Muslims, Jews and LGBT community. There have been rallies in Washington DC, new York and Boston. In california, there have been large rallies in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, to name just a few.
These rallies are as much about social justice as they are about countering hate and fear.
The cycle of Fear-Hate-Violence:
Fear is a learned behavior, and so is hate. We are not born to hate each other. Hate leads to fear and fear can lead to more hate, and at times, violence. We have seen this throughout history. The violence and genocide we have seen, such as the holocaust and the Muslim genocide in Rohingya, did not start with violence. They started with creating fear of the “others” that led to hate and then violence. At times fear and hate leads to dehumanization, where the “others” are not seen as humans, so you get desensitized to violence against them and/or feel it is justified.
This is why we have seen what we have seen in Burma, Syrian civil war, during holocaust and many other cases of human genocide. Because of the extreme case of ‘othering’ and dehumanization, violence does not seem so cruel or “inhuman”.
Fear and hate brings the worst out of us. Fear and hate makes us who we are not.
Fear and hate are often irrational. No matter how much data is put forth, you don’t stop fearing or hating the “other”. When a kid is fearful of the dark or fears something is under the bed, the parents can turn the light on, show the kid there is nothing there but often the fear remains.
In the setting of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, for example, we can quote research, polls and data to show that people are more likely to be hit by lightning than killed by a Muslim terrorist, but it does not ease their fears. We can show the data that vast majority of Muslims are “average” peace loving and educated people, but the stereotyping that has resulted in fearing and hating does not always ease up.
Unfortunately fear-mongers know that very well and use that to drive their agenda by inciting fear in people’s minds. Fear and hate then leads to dehumanization and violence, or makes violence against the “other” seem justifiable.
Antidote for fear, hate and dehumanization:
Data about the “others” can help to educate. however data/education targets the minds. We must realize the hate and fear do not live in the minds. they live in the hearts. So we have to think about how do we touch people’s hearts.
We cannot touch people’s hearts without getting to know them. We need to ask them what’s driving the fear. We need to learn how to be kind to those who are unkind to you.
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). The Quran 49:13
We have to remember Prophets Muhammad, Jesus and Moses brought about social revolutions. They did not do that by giving tons of data. They changed people’s minds by touching their hearts- by showing random acts of kindness- by letting them see the human side of what others perceived as evil. We are taught to show kindness not just to fellow human beings but to ALL creatures of God- living and nonliving.
Those who are kind and considerate to Allah’s creatures, Allah bestows His kindness and affection on them. Show kindness to the creatures on the earth so that Allah may be kind to you. Hadith of prophet Muhammad
Torah reminds us treating the immigrants with kindness and reminds the Jews that once they themselves were in the same position.
Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33-34
We need to cherish our diversity, not use that to “other” those who don’t look like us or don’t speak our language. Treating the “others” as yourself is the second greatest commandment.
And among His [God’s] signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.” The Quran 30:22
The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. Gospel of Mark 12:31
Lets not demonize others- lets not demonize Trump, or the Republicans or anyone we disagree with. Yes, stand up, speak up for sure, fight for justice and equality but let’s not demonize those who do not agree with us or don’t look like us, or don’t speak like us, or pray like us.
And yes, let’s not demonize those who demonize us.
If we do demonize them, we will be adding fuel to the fire- and we will be part of the vicious cycle of Hate-Fear-Demonization.
Dr Martin Luther King famously said:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
To his immortal words, may I add that demonization cannot drive out demonization, only humanization can do that.
Let’s Humanize, not demonize each other.
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