It’s obvious that hate is an ever-present reality in our lives. There are moments when it is profoundly all around us; at other times, it seems to recede like the tide. But, it never simply disappears.
So, since we can’t just wish it away, what can we do to minimize its presence and its reduce its influence on the society in which we live?
Here are but some of my responses to that question:
1. Whenever and where ever spewers of hate attempt to take center stage, they need to be rationally challenged; inasmuch as they depend on spreading falsehoods, each of their lies must be cooly refuted.
2. Knowing that hate springs forth in the midst of despair, always working in concert with others whom we trust, ours is a responsibility to improve economic and social conditions so that the hatemonger’s base of operations and power to control events are as limited as possible.
3. Children and adults can be prepared to confront hate; ours is the obligation to sensitize them to reality and to provide them with the skills and mind-set which will allow them to be minimally damaged when and if they become targets of those who would degrade and dehumanize them.
4. If we find ourselves falling prey to stereotypical thinking, not paying attention to an individual’s attributes, and lumping that person into some imagined “whole” via thinking in terms of generalities, it’s necessary that we be aware of such short-sightedness on our part and disallow it in every aspect of our thoughts and actions.
The person who spreads hate in our society wishes to drive us apart from one another, to plant poisonous seeds of mistrust amongst us, to wrest control from those whom we have placed in authority, to use misinformation to gain the upper hand, and to win an ultimate victory over everything we hold dear.
We have all the means necessary to deny them that success; we can ill-afford to wait for sometime else and/or someone else to take up this task, because there’s too much at stake for us to be unconcerned and uninvolved!
By the way, as we take all of this into account, I believe that it’s absolutely essential that we also not permit hate to make us hysterical; we can only become victimized by it when and if we permit that to happen – not by the hands of others but all by ourselves…
This is the first post by Rabbi Allen I. Freehling
He served for three decades as the Senior Rabbi of University Synagogue here in Los Angeles before serving for seven years as the Executive Director of the now defunct City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission; his current assignment is Deputy Chief of Staff for Field Operations in the Sixth City Council District.