Yes, hate really bothers me but what can I do? Food for thought.
This question seems to be raised with more frequency and urgency week by week. I’ve had students, colleagues, family and friends bring this up in different ways and the volume calls for some response. I wish I had the right answer – or a good place to look for the right answer. Instead I’m also stymied by the growing chorus of hateful messages and the heartache that comes from awareness that hateful language and acts are more present today. I’m one of those who somewhat naively believed we had left these behind in cultural competency trainings early this century, clearly I was wrong.
In communities like Maria College we have some opportunities to move the needle in the right direction. Our Mission Animation actions, values expressed and demonstrated, and examples of small individual actions all help in this little corner of the world. I also came across a concept new to me this week from Sociologist Megan Carroll at UCF Dornsife. She refers to this opportunity as incidental activism. That is taking opportunities life presents to us in the course of our daily routines to educate those around us that hate isn’t OK. So how does this incidental activism work? Say you are with some friends and someone makes a joke at a person or group’s expense – be the one who says “that’s not funny”. If you hear someone make a statement about something demonstrably false or based on hate – be that one to say “that’s not true”. I’m not encouraging adversarial confrontation, rather think of what Carroll from UCF Dornsife tells us – we can embrace these interactions as opportunities to educate people (sometimes strangers). I will take her concept a step further with the premise that reducing the audience for hateful statements can reduce the spread of hate. I don’t contend this will solve all our problems, but history tells us that changing our culture will happen in small steps over time. Think of this as one of the small steps.
David Hoffman DPS CCE