Pain, pride, frustration, and disparity combine into a deadly concoction more often, and at a deeper level, than we would ever think possible. It’s easy to place blame for our issues on others. Intolerance, racism, prejudice, xenophobia, and discrimination become the outputs for many folks who don’t even realize that they are doing anything wrong. It’s right on our street, breeding in our communities – and our homes.
The problem is that the seeds of hatred are germinated by people who shrug off any thoughts of what it is they are promoting. People, who occupy our homes and working environments are influenced by us, and equally, we are influenced by them. Our children also are aware, and, unbeknownst to adults, adopt many of the the attitudes of the people we associate with, as well as us.
Whenever we ignore hateful comments and attitudes, and think that it’s just an innocent (perhaps ignorant) comment which won’t cause much harm, we are feeding a culture of intolerance and blame. Those attitudes are the long engrained roots of oppressive, racist, and colonialist doctrine. This has much bigger repercussions. Recently, those repercussions have bubbled up in the form of the remergence of hate groups, which threaten the safety of our children and families.
Much like our gardens in our yards, we plant positive and beautiful thoughts, and weed away the unwanted. It begins with small comments and remarks. Racism, hatred, discrimination, and similar prejudice are like the micro-sized seeds of the weeds, which seem to infest our yards every year. It’s not so much the people – it’s the ideas and attitudes. If we let them go to seed and float around, other yards, homes, and communities will have to deal with them. We have an obligation to recognize and eliminate these invasive and destructive seeds.
Developing empathy means truly walking in another’s shoes, while hearing their whole story and perspective. Realizing people’s truths is only the beginning. There is a desperate need for a paradigm shift in our society. How are we really protecting society from being affected negatively by the products of untended soils?
It may take a lifetime, but if that’s what it takes, then so be it! What better cause than the one which is noble?
Taro is the e4c Community Development Officer.