Other faiths speak out against Islamaphobia.
Interfaith Dialog With Students At The American University.
How to Talk to Someone who has a different perspective -- Rabbi Ted Falcon and Imam Jamal Rahman of Seattle, Washington
Why Do We Hate?
Here are a few ideas, thoughts, and stories about the subject of hate. This is the stuff of research, workshops, and PhD dissertations, although the materials generally are centered on related subjects such as dislike or anger. Only in recent years has hate become a study in its own category. It hardly needs mentioning that there are no simple answers. Along with any facts, there are always the moral, ethical, cultural, economic, ideological belief aspects to motivation.
People will say, “Oh, I don’t hate anyone.” Great to hear, but the truth is that we are all wired for hate. It’s biological. A possible explanation says that for millions of years, our ancestors dealt with starvation, predators, and disease along with droughts and ice ages. In those environments, it was reproductively advantageous for our ancestors to be cooperative within their own band but aggressive toward other bands. The result was violence. While the conflicts lacked modern warfare, they were more lethal - about one in eight hunter-gatherer males died in conflict, compared to about one in one hundred men who died in wars of the 20th Century.
Most aggression is a response to feeling threatened or fearful. With increased threat, we become increasingly aggressive. Once the angry brain sends these messages, our bodies go into action. If you are going to fight instead of flee, blood surges to your arm muscles for hitting; goose bumps make your hair stand up to make you look more intimidating to a potential attacker, and your brain (hypothalamus) can trigger rage reactions. Aggressiveness correlates with high testosterone in both men and women, along with low serotonin.
We do know that hate is different than dislike. If one dislikes something or someone, the tendency is avoidance. Hate is more associated with approach, when our angry brain kicks into action. Hate can be rational or irrational. Unjust acts inspire rational hate such as, “I hate genocide” and “I hate racism.” Hatred of a person based on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or national origin constitutes irrational hate. All of it masks personal insecurities - not all insecure people are haters, but all haters are insecure people, so there we are…back to threat and fear.
Using FMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) it has been learned that our brains respond differently to thinking of concepts or people we dislike and thinking of concepts or people we profess to hate. While it is about the brain and behavior, do you suppose we might someday annihilate hate with a pill? Or, how do we need to adapt training and teaching children to strengthen the positive qualities of our brains? The hate process itself remains elusive for the present. Among the seemingly bad DNA news, there is also good news! Humans are wired for both hate and love.
With so many examples of escalating conflict, coming together calls for nothing short of a transformation of society and attitudes. A gift as precious as unity -- in diversity, not uniformity -- will be hard won. I believe that "The well-being of mankind, its peace and security are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established." Our security is dependent on our unity. This quotation comes from Baha'u'llah, the 19th century Founder of the Baha'i Faith, who spent most of His life in prison for advocating justice, equality, education for all, and urging humanity on the path toward peace. He asserted that human beings were each "created Noble" despite our too-often turning our backs on this nobility; that the fundamental need of this age in human history is for the coming together of the whole human race. He taught that if religion causes tyranny, injustice or hostility, "the absence of religion would be preferable."
As a guide for personal action, these words of Baha'u'llah offer some concrete steps: "Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed,
an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression."
I've been deeply distressed by so many acts of hatred, even as we start this New Year. Rather than respond with more vitriol, those of us who wish for peace can do so much -- to love more deeply, seek to learn more openly, serve more generously, and be more mindful of the individuals around us, with the precepts above as a guide. We must begin somewhere.
Two slain politicians were outspoken as voices of reason and moderation, in Pakistan and the U.S., and admired for their conciliatory, can-do, passion for service. How many wake-up calls do we need before we rethink our commitment to bringing opposing viewpoints together for the common good, so that differences don't spur violence? Is this even possible? As we start 2011, how can we do better?
On the Tucson shootings, politicians who used rhetoric including "lock and load," "the firing line," and other violent images can't be blamed for a mentally ill young man's violent actions, but at a time when we blame TV for childhood obesity, attention deficit, violent behavior and other social ills, taking greater responsibility for the repercussions of our language and actions isn't a political move, it's just acting responsibly.
I am thankful for my many friends who use moderation, dignity, and courteousness in their speech. I wish to thank all of you for your kindness.
Much Love from Kent,
President, Akron Area Interfaith Council