If you follow the news these days like I do, you undoubtedly have noticed a rise in racism, bigotry and hate in America. It seems to be coming from all facets of society from the common worker to the (so called) elite, and from our government, congress and one presidential candidate in particular. The problem that we face in combating racism, bigotry and such is the same as combating terrorism. These things are constructs. They are ideas, emotions. You can’t fight them. You can kill ISIS fighters in the war on terror but more will take their place. You can oppose hate with love but more hate will rise up. What is needed is to understand why there is racism, why there is hate. Racism, hate and bigotry are symptoms of other problems. Find the problem and find the cure. Sounds easy, right? If it were, we would already have it licked. But we don’t and it seems to be getting worse. People are becoming more comfortable with public displays of some of the worst feelings and emotions humans can come up with. But, why?
Our society is geared toward finding happiness. Advertising tells people to acquire more stuff to be happy. People have to have the latest phone, car or clothes. T.V. commercials tell you that you will be happy if you get the newest products. Or try the latest diet. Book store shelves are packed with self help books. All this stuff to improve our lives and make us happy, but is it working? No. It’s not.
We have become a nation of shamers and blamers. We shame people when we think they’ve done wrong and hand out blame like a free ham at Christmas. We thrive on division and demonize differences. What this does is create minority groups for people to verbally attack and look down upon and for radical individuals to go further with physical violence. But again, why? Why do we need to look down on others? Why do we need someone to hate? That is the real question. Simply enough, people are dissatisfied. They are simply unhappy. And most don’t know why. If you’ve ever listened to people gossip you quickly understand that they do it to put those they gossip about at a lower level than themselves. They do it to feel better. If I can believe that you are worse than me, that means that I’m not so bad. My life doesn’t suck nearly as bad as yours so I must be doing alright. We need someone to hate, to feel better about ourselves. These are the roots of racism, bigotry.
Yet again, the question is, why? Why can’t we feel better on our own without hurting others? Part of the problem that brings about racism, hatred and bigotry is fear. We are afraid. Of what? We are afraid of the unknown. We are afraid of people who have a different skin color than us. Of people who speak a different language. Who worship a different God, but why? Why are we not secure enough in ourselves to not be worried about others? What makes us fear other people? Two parts of this problem are media and government. They make money from fear. Fear fuels the Military Industrial Complex; the machine built by a combination of government and industry that makes and sell weapons for war and creates the conditions for war. If they keep us afraid, through media bombardment, expecting the next terrorist attack, then we won’t squawk about how much is spent for the military. We won’t complain when we invade another country because we’re “doing it to keep the world safe.” People are just plain scared. Scared of dying, of losing what we have, or what we think we have. So, differences are demonized and we fear them. Then our government tells us it will keep us safe with more government, more war, more weapons. The NRA tells us we need more guns. Why? Because, they make money off that. Gun manufacturers pour millions into the NRA to keep pushing guns. To keep shouting about the second amendment.
So fear means money for government, for weapons manufacturers, for insurance companies and banks. For the NRA and media. And when we are afraid, we are not secure. When we are not secure, we fear. And that’s when racism, bigotry and hatred rears its ugly head. When we fear something long enough we resent that thing for making us afraid. Resentment turns to hatred and hatred to racism and bigotry.
Religion is another component of the fear complex. Televangelists scream hatred for the LGBTQ community. They tell us that our only salvation is through their brand of religion. Other religions are false and should be feared. Atheism should be feared. What kind of person are you if you don’t believe in God? How can you have morals if God is not steering your ship? Send us your money, and we will pray for you. They have people believing things that have nothing to do with what that religion was originally based on. One of the ways in which religion does this is by getting you to stop thinking for yourself. If you put your faith in your church to figure things out for you, you stop thinking. When you stop thinking, you’ll believe anything they tell you.
So how do we stop the fear? That’s a question that’s hard to answer. It may be different for each person. One of the ways we can stop fearing other people is to realize that we are equal. Even though there are lots of skin colors, lots of languages, and lots of religious faiths, underneath all the trappings we are just human. We all have the same human qualities. The sexual orientation of another human may be different from yours but all that means simply is that that person is different than you. We have to realize that differences need not be feared. Gay people having the right to marry, means that they are being treated equally. Gay marriage will not ruin straight marriage any more than straight marriage will ruin gay marriage. People who have a different religious faith will not cause your faith to falter. Speaking another language is not wrong, it’s just different. That’s all. Just different, and different need not be feared.
Isolationism breeds fear. People that don’t have gay friends or relatives are often found to be afraid of, or bigoted toward gays. The same goes for skin color, language, religious faith, etc., etc. If you don’t know any Muslims then chances are, you know little about them. Fear of the unknown. In my work I have come to know a few Muslim people. I have found that they are warm and interesting people and they welcome questions about themselves and their faith. Muslim refugees in America have often gone through HELL before they were forced into refugee status and found themselves coming here. When they get here they find an unwelcoming people who fear them because they have been trained by the government and the media, church, etc. to believe that these people are all terrorists. Muslim refugee’s lives have been utterly destroyed by war in their home countries and they leave everything they have ever known to come here for a better life. And here they are faced with racism, bigotry and hate.
As a people, we need to change things. We need to stop the fear. We need to vote new people into public office who are not afraid of the status quo. Women and men who will look to the future as a better place than today is. We need to change the media. We need to stop accepting the lies they tell us to keep us hiding in our bedrooms. The Military Industrial Complex needs to taken apart and scrapped. We need to stop making money off of war and fear. There is no other way to do it than by grassroots movements. Black Lives Matter, is one such movement. They bring attention to the fact that since our country’s inception, black lives have not mattered. The Gay pride movement is another. People need to understand that different is not wrong. Different is just different and need not be feared. We need to stand up to the way things are and believe that they can be better. We need to know that individuals can and should make a difference. How about if we start right now?