Monday, November 18, 2013

Violence, Labeling, and Hatred

Every day, we read about violence.  For some of us, the violence is on our streets and too close to home.  We also hear of the violence occurring in war-torn countries--violence against civilians in the form of rape, murder, and pillage.  Since humankind's existence, we have found ways to torture our fellow human beings.  In war, countries often initiate conflicts for ostensibly lofty reasons when in reality, they want no more than to snatch land from someone else.  Still other wars are fought because someone decides he or she doesn't like the indigenous population of a region.  They may be the "wrong" race, ethnic group, religion or political philosophy. Labeling them "The Other" is easy.  We have someone to hate, and at times, finding that "other" is safer than learning about that person, finding out what makes him or her tick, and then making a friend. "Those people: are easy to hate because of their race, religion, etc.  Too often, haters cloak their animosity in the language of righteousness.  Hitler did this injustice in Nazi Germany.  Jews were "Christ-killers," and their fellow Germans were right, even holy, in condemning them.  Westerners did this to Blacks taken in the slave trade in Africa.  The color of someone's skin relegated him or her to the status of a slave. Any violence could be committed against that individual because he or she was no longer a person.

We can all see ourselves as superior in some way. Most of us would say we "aren't prejudiced," but even those who don't use ethnic or religious slurs often hold deep-rooted bias.  Still, we think we are above people like Hitler and his Nazi goons.  "This" couldn't happen in our country.  Well, it did.  We enslaved people.  We put out signs saying, "No Irish need apply." We rounded up Japanese Americans during a time of war and placed them in camps. No country is in any way superior to another in the "hatred" department.

And what of the violence in our streets? We hear young people say this or that  person wasn't in their neighborhood, their church, or of their color. Again, we have turf war, and the victims of those wars have been labeled "The Other" by someone. Being "Th Other" negated that person's right to exist.  Another who found him or herself superior had the right to stamp out the life of "The Other" or outcast.

When will we stop seeing our fellow beings as "The Other"?

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