It always surprises me when I find that my closest friends or family members hate others so. I thought we were past that, I thought we as Americans, as a world, have moved on. But as you grow older in this world and begin to notice or understand more the true meanings behind words or actions unsaid, you begin to realize the immense façade that has been draped over you since your early years of school.
When I found out one of my closest friends was slightly racist, I was more than slightly shocked. It astounded me the comments she would make as she began to feel more comfortable around me. She would be scared of others in a way I could not understand—other people rarely scare me just because of their differences. And in no way am I trying to uphold myself and bash everyone else, I am still learning right, I guess I have just always adhered to what we were taught very early on; that everyone is a person, to respect others and you will (or should) gain respect back, to treat others like you want to be treated.
And what astounded me most was that she was well aware and just denounced it as a part of herself. “Oh yes, I’m very racist, it’s okay. My Dad’s always been racist.” And there opened up the problem and the solution at once.
We need to stop hating each other, other people, just because of their ethnicity, their color, their race, their difference, because then we pass on the useless hatred to our children and thus future generations grow up hating others because of their parent’s hatred. It is a vicious cycle that must be broken.
If you go under the skin and cut into the body, we are all the same, with the same organs necessary to make life, the same bodily functions, the same hopes and dreams—just tweaked a tad for different cultures. With the guidance of a very dear friend, I once wrote an essay about the otherness of others. I focused on a friend I had made in my junior year of high school, when she had come to study abroad. I brought up countless times we had hung out, enjoyed ourselves, and learned a great deal about each other’s culture. At the end of the essay I concluded with, “The otherness of others? What otherness?”
I just couldn’t understand how people could dislike a group they had never even encountered. —Mary Pipher
Even growing up with a lot of hatred and injustice towards me, I never felt it was right to reciprocate the hatred. It made me feel strange … wrong. I was teased for being short, for not fitting in, for being shy. I never felt it necessary to retaliate my feelings of injustice until much later. In my seventeenth year everything seemed to change. I learned about the Existentialist philosophy in school and how life is up to us and us alone. According to this philosophy, this way of thinking, there is no fate, no God, nobody to help us out, we toil day after day for no reward in the end but death; it is up to us to choose how to live our lives, choose how to spend them, to try to find something worth it to keep living. The knowledge of such immense responsibility weighed heavily upon me. The truth of the world, opened up to me at last, frightened me into immobilization.
After learning of this philosophy, this worrisome view that could be the truth, I began to realize the supreme unjustness of my life: if I was not going to care or take note who was? I came to loathe intensely many people at my school, for feelings of jealousy or wrath, I don’t know. I just know that I was starting to recognize injustice in my own life and I was not going to let it happen anymore.
Except that’s exactly what I did. I fostered this hatred against people yet never did anything to change my own life. If they do it why shouldn’t I? I began to think. I was not living the existentialist path the right way.
Harboring hatred gets you nowhere. It not only made me immobile and detest most people. They lifted their noses at me, well damnit I sure enough would lift mine right back at them.
I have later since, closer to my eighteenth year, realized that this is neither the correct path nor the way I want to live. Walking around, day after day, analyzing, judging, and hating people. It isn’t fair to not give them a chance first. What was I basing my hatred off of anyway? How I had been and was being treated—by people other than these, other than the ones I in turn was hating. That there is the problem. We need to learn, work together in how to fix it.
I can only envision the ideal of peace. If I don’t, who will? I cannot force it out of people.
Need to start with peace within yourself
Before you can hope and demand peace of the whole entire world.
Need to start with peace within yourself
Then, once attained, need to move further out, but a very small step—among your peers, your friends,
Then locally—your community.
And slowly spread the word, the message, the hope for peace.
And hopefully some people in another country, another place will resonate with the same ideas and morals—and spread the message for peace.
Then another community in another country will be peaceful, and slowly, slowly, it will spread from one community to the other until it encompasses the world.
Just as a fad spreads from one place to another, a fashion statement among teenagers, so too will peace spread—or we can hope—as fast as a fad. Only stay much longer.
The whole concept of “Think globally, act locally,” that whole concept is embodied in the idea. All these mantras and mottos keep spinning in my head. So I write them out for you. It is up to you to decide what you will do. I can only offer suggestions.
With this ideal in my mind, I can try to live peace, I can try to better myself. I’m sorry I do not have a solution here for us. But I am not one of those genius eighteen-year-olds who knows the entire world and is born a humanitarian, with plausible and very effective-sounding plans.
All I wish is to call attention to the problem, as it is radiating everywhere and it seems that unfortunately as time continues to go by, this intense hatred is not going away. Despite laws, amendments, education, requests for respect, equal rights movements, and all we have come through and conquered—it’s still not enough.
Maybe I am asking too much of humanity. I can barely muster the strength to say I hope not.
July 15, 2009
*Note: I do not subscribe to the Existentialist philosophy. I still have yet to decide what exactly I believe in. I am open to and want to learn about many ways of viewing the world, philosophies, religions, values and belief systems. With more knowledge rather than less, perhaps then I can make an educated, informed decision.