28 August 2017

When hate demands an answer

We toss around the word hate a lot in our common parlance. I hate Brussels Sprouts. He hates that band. She hates mornings. But those are really things we dislike, not hate. Hate is a powerful word and has real consequences when used as a threat or weapon. Hate speech and hate actions are on the rise throughout the world, and we here in Vancouver are not immune to this rise in intolerance. One definition of hate is 'denoting hostile actions motivated by intense dislike or prejudice', and it this kind of hate that has become more prevalent.

We sometimes use hateful expressions in conversations and toss derogatory words about without thinking. This laziness in our verbal expression can be very hurtful and lead to far worse consequences than simply offending someone. Hate crimes are on the rise everywhere. Fear seems to permeate all aspects of our daily lives.

Prejudice, a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience, is commonly attribute to fear--fear of the unknown, or fear of change, and is a learnt attribute. Children are not inherently prejudiced. These attitudes of fear are passed on by the adults around them. But kindness, compassion and openness to differences can also be taught through education and experience.

The news has been filled with the recent events in Charlottesville, but what happened there is not new. Every day you can find news stories of crimes based on hate, prejudice, and intolerance.

This is why I was gratified to see more than 4 000 people come to a rally against hate in Vancouver on a weekend in August. I was there to show my support for understanding and my opposition to hate and hate groups. I was honoured to be asked to be a member of a group called 'Peace Bearers'. These good folks ensure a safe environment for all. They try to isolate and diffuse confrontations.

The rally was a peaceful demonstration, with many speakers. Hate mongers stayed away for the most part--perhaps daunted by the number of peaceful folks who showed up to say yes to love and no to hate.

It did my heart good to see so many people--young and old--come together to say with one voice that 'Hate is not a Canadian value'

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