hate crimes :: hate is a global issue
|How to stop hate before it starts|
"Hate is a four-letter word. So is love. Which word will you teach your child?" -- The More You Know public service campaign, NBC 2003"
If hate is a learned behavior influenced by the environment, then perhaps it can be prevented or unlearned.
The Anti-Defamation League, a civic organizations formed in 1913 to "secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike," emphasizes teaching tolerance to children. Children are the ideal audience to reach to preventing hate before it starts, because their pre-conceived discriminations between races, religions, classes, ages and cultures are not fully defined.
Before you can reach out to reduce hate in the lives of children and others, ADL recommends starting with yourself and determining your own attitudes toward people who are different.
Introspective reflection can be the first step in reducing hate in your own life, agrees Hassan Rasheed, president of Islam on Campus at the University of Florida and an activist for Students Taking Actions Against Racism. Until you understand where you are coming from, you cannot understand the concerns of another, he said.
"We're very entrenched in our own worlds," Rasheed said. "We must practice empathy" to try and understand where others are coming from, he said.
Besides introspection and empathy, education is another important tool to counter hate, Rasheed said. When people are more aware of the world around them, they have a greater exposure to cultures and languages. Being familiar with current social situations around the world is important to understanding people, Rasheed said, adding that for a fuller perspective, people should seek cultural information outside the context of mainstream media. Rasheed also recommends trying to reach to people that are normally not inside your communication comfort zone. All of these actions will increase exposure to other types of people, encouraging tolerance and acceptance of alternative ways of life.
"People are more likely to respond negatively when something is completely alien to them," Rasheed said.
Lastly, Rasheed said that we should try to step back from ourselves for a moment before judging a situation. If we could stop "being caught up in the moment all of the time," maybe our responses to others wouldn't be as emotional and harsh, he said.