Hate comes from fear
A friend of mine from another country is heartbroken. She came to the United States with many dreams and hopes for her future. She is a naturalized citizen. She has had many opportunities but also many disappointments which have come in the form of outward actions of prejudice against her. She is honest, kind, loving, humble, a hard worker and a wonderful person. She has been accused of things she did not do, has even been verbally attacked and intimidated. She has worked hard at doing her best job and gotten criticism and even dismissal. People have taken advantage of her because of her vulnerability as a person who was not born in the U.S. She has worked extremely hard to “fit in” and yet has been threatened.
As I have reviewed in my mind some of the things that have happened to her I wondered how people could treat another human that way, especially in a town that was originally a melting pot of immigrants. My answer came as I remembered a scene from my childhood. I was walking down Park Street in Butte with a relative. We passed an African American man. I looked up and said, “Hi” to the man. We greeted strangers, in this way then. My relative was a very kind man so his reaction surprised me. Gruffly, he exclaimed, “Don’t you ever talk to those n…….s!” Even as a child I knew he was wrong. He reacted out of fear for the sake of his little charge and out of ignorance. I don’t believe hate is the opposite of love. I believe hate comes from the true opposite which is fear.
In thinking about this I realized I too have reacted in fear. I have withheld my love and association from some people who think differently from me. I have refused to really listen to their side. I have said hurtful things behind their backs. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself and anyone who might read this. The hope for our world lies in getting behind the eyes of other people, seeing life from their perspective. And even if we are sure they are wrong, showing respect and kindness to whoever we meet. My heart is as broken as my friend’s. Bullying does not just happen on school yards. Change begins with the person in the mirror.
— Carol Ann Reiff, Whitehall