If you’ve ever seen a kid’s program on television talking about race relations, you’ll see the words tolerance, sometimes people will say, “I don’t see color,” but is mere tolerance and ignorance really the path forward? Take it from someone who was on the far-right of extremism a long time, only to find harmony, love, and peace for all people… “Tolerating,” someone and being ignorant most certainly are not helping anyone or anything in our country. So, what I want to do in this article is give exacting and clear-cut means to end ignorance, to find love and acceptance of all others in the way I did, and if I could change using these methods, I know anyone can.
This step-by-step approach is pretty straightforward, honest, and best of all, it genuinely works, so if you truly want to end hate, ignorance, and extremism based on those things, please read onward.
Step one: Talk, and listen without the intention of responding. Too often people hear what someone is saying with the intent of responding to it, rather than digesting it and understanding where exactly that person’s ideology/beliefs stem from. Do NOT let your emotions dictate the discussion, let logic, reasoning, facts, and figures be your sword in combating anything abhorrent that may be spewed forth. Remember, if you said something you didn’t know was false or ignorant, and you got hit or screamed at in your face, how would you feel? Would you be more or less receptive to much else the person had to say? This leads us to step two…
Step two: Find the shared humanity. We’re all humans, we don want to feel pain, we want to fit in, we want to be loved, we want what’s best for our families, friends, and loved ones, and most of all, we want the freedom to be who we are. We each have empathy, none of us want to see our kids suffering in any way, nor our elderly be alone and without. We love, we laugh, we cry, we feel lonely at times, we feel overwhelmed by life sometimes, we struggle, and we succeed. We like our pastimes, whether it be music, art, sports, working out, video games, etcetera… and often wish we had more time for them. We want our kids to succeed and grow and prosper in life and want to see them shine as adults.
Step three: See race and differences, respect them, our differences are our strength. As a multi-cultural and racial society, each of us is different, and while we’re all still Americans, we retain our cultural heritage alongside our American heritage. Our differences strengthen us as a people, it adds flavor to the landscape of American society and detracts nothing from it. The people who come often bring new insights and perspectives, foods, languages, and altogether enrich us as a nation and as a people. Everyone and everything brings a distinctive flair to America that we all benefit and grow from. You don’t overlook race or differences, you embrace them, you don’t overstate race or differences, because, in the end, we’re all just human beings engaging in similar experiences in life.
Step four: Everyone is a single not representative of a whole. Each person is their own individual being, with their own experiences, perspectives, likes, dislikes, feelings, etcetera… and cannot be lumped into a gross generalization. As a teen, a black girl lied and told other black students I called her the “N” word and I was jumped by 12 or more kids and hit in the head with a brick. I grossly generalized all black people from that point on and if it would have continued, I wouldn’t have met Bee and the amazing friends of color I have today. In reality, it was that girl and those boys at fault, not the millions of black people around the globe, it was an infinitesimally small number of people who did that to me in the end, not all black people. It led me down the dark path I walked for decades and turned me into something I deplore today.
Step five: You tolerate the loud crying baby that lives next door, not your neighbor. Whether religious or not, the Torah has one line that is universal in its depth, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Leviticus 19:34. Not tolerate your neighbor, not ignore your neighbor, but love them and treat them as you would wish to be treated. This is a core element of human empathy, mutual respect, and all-in-all humanity as a whole. You tolerate something annoying, something you wish you do away with, but can’t; tolerance is not what is needed herein.
Step six: Don’t listen to the media! The mainstream media needs everyone afraid of their neighbors, they need people confused and angry and constantly watching to find the next racial atrocity… why? Ad revenue, viewers, and at times, to pass an agenda that has little to do with helping race relations. Malcolm X put it best when he said “M.E.D.I.A. Most effective devil in America!” In reality, race relations have gotten a lot better and in fact, neighbors of different races are far more harmonious today, than they have ever been. Go outside, meet someone different from yourself, talk to them, not about race but about something you might have in common and you’ll find people are people and relations are much better and people more open than ever. My family of Jews lives in an almost entirely black community and we’ve never felt more welcomed!
Step seven: Stop looking for the slight! The fact is, if you’re always looking to be slighted, to be misspoken too, to be victimized in some way, you’ll always find it and be a perpetual victim. If you look for anything at all hard enough, you’ll find it. No one talking to you willfully is looking to slight you, if they hated you, truly hated you, they wouldn’t waste their time talking to you in the first place.
Step eight: Idiots are everywhere! You’ll find racists exist in every race, don’t blame an entire race for the small sub-section of people you find espousing utter garbage. If people aren’t willing to have a rational discourse, dismiss them, pay them no attention until they are ready to. No, not all races have power, but that’s not really what racism is, that’s institutional racism, racism however exists in every race and is not mutually exclusive to one race or another.
Step nine: Don’t judge a book by its cover! Cliche right, but it is in fact the truth. People dress according to their societies, sub-cultures, socioeconomic status etc… but one’s clothing does not necessarily dictate who or what the person is or believes. Open yourself up to meeting people who are wholly opposites in dress and you’ll find a world of opportunities to grow from and friendships to forge.
Step ten: Engage! Listen to another person’s music, eat their food, truly engage with them in every way possible to break through the boundaries which divide us. Get to genuinely know and experience one another, build friendships based on knowledge and understanding.
If you follow those steps, you’ll be on the right path to truly break ignorance and division in our society. It takes genuine effort and caring to do this, you cannot go into this without working from the mind and heart together. The work you put in today yields the fruit of tomorrow, which offers a better life, more love, and a better future for our children… and our future and our kids are worth it!