Tag Archives: preventing hate crimes

Guilt? Obligation? Anger? An Alternative

9 Aug

Would you hide me?

I’m obsessed with this question.  Prompted by Nathan Englander’s story: ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” .

Hiding refers (partly) to the physical hiding in the event of another Holocaust.  And really so much more.  The layered morality  in the action to hide another.

Are you trust-worthy?

Luckily, in this day and age,  I have the luxury to view ‘hiding’ as an emotional act.

Hiding as a metaphorical act focuses on words of  kindness and compassion.  These are the words you say to offer safety and escape from sadness, bullying, self-hate, insecurity, loneliness.

It’s as simple as sincerely saying ‘thank you’ and ‘I appreciate you’.  I may help others because it’s the right thing, not to be thanked.  Yet, it feels really good to be acknowledged.   In fact, when someone tells me they appreciate who I am, it makes me feel safe.  It makes me think they would ‘hide me’ when I feel low.

After all in one small way, holocausts, genocides and hate crimes begin with small acts of bullying, disregard, and unkindness.   And bullies often feel insecure themselves.  Bullies need to hear:  ‘You are good.  You have something to offer.”

Advertisement from NYC subway at Transit Museum

Advertisement from NYC subway at Transit Museum.

Unfortunately, people don’t use these three magic words often enough, do they?  How often do you feel unappreciated?

Hiding can be as simple as, “I know you’ve been having a rough time.  How are you?”

I remember a friend, ‘F’, sharing details of a mutual friend’s , ‘melt-down’.  It had to do with roommate issues and ‘F’ had sided with the roommate.  I can still feel my frustration, reminding ‘F’ to think about our friend’s feelings.   I wanted to hide  her and urged ‘F’ to do the same.

Emotional hiding demonstrates character and strength.   It’s ‘walking the talk’.   Likely all of us, if asked, would adamantly say we’d hide another.   But how do you really know:  you don’t.  Emotional hiding is a pretty good indicator though.  As I’ve written before,  I obsessively ask myself this question to become a better person, the person I know I can be.

Recently my calendar presented a dilemma.  Two invitations on the same day:  family wedding and out-of-town friend visit.

Where to go?  Who to please?  See, by nature I am filled with guilt – I like to do what pleases.

By nurture, I am equally filled with obligation – I am told I must do what pleases.  I am told I should feel guilt.

guilt + obligation = anger

Naturally, the anger is all mine – pleasing others doesn’t necessarily please me!

When it comes to obligation, what will it cost to pay my dues?  Must I go in debt and be buried in anger?

Needless to say, relationships are complicated.  Not black and white, but splashed with shades of grey and lots of red.   Yet, when deciding where I would go to be engulfed by comfort and love, I found myself asking:  ‘Who would hide me?’

Which event would I be most surrounded by love?  Where would I be listened to and supported?  

Sitting here safely, I realized:

  • First and foremost I have to feel I’m worth protecting, worth hiding.
  • It’s important to let others know when their words feel judgmental, unkind, hateful, and hurtful.  A simple:  ‘that’s not nice’ works well.

Oh, and terrible as it may sound, if you want me to attend your event:  treat me like I’m worth ‘hiding’ – and, I’ll strive to treat you the same.

 For the first 2 steps in my series in how to prevent genocide (and bullying):

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/prevent-genocide-and-bullying-12-ways-to-swallow-an-empathy-pill/

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/6-strategies-to-naked-identity-only-you-can-prevent-genocide-step-1/

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/only-you-can-prevent-a-genocide-an-introduction-to-6-actions-you-can-take/

Advertisements

Only YOU can prevent a Genocide: An Introduction to 6 actions you can take

2 May

Never Again.  Never again another Holocaust.

Or, Never Again – until, what?  Our human nature overwhelms our humanity?

This year is the 70th anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and marks the official day of Yom HaShoah  or Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Shoah (think Steven Spielberg’s movie) means ‘calamity’ and represents the mass murder of 6 million European Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

Unfortunately. the US Holocaust Museum reminds us, ‘calamities’ aren’t just about the past.  Unexplainable calamities and hate crimes of all types  happen in the present.  Too often, as we’re reminded by the recent act of terror in the Boston bombing.

 And think Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Newton…  Think of all the little kids being teased on the playground – or in board rooms

Never again until it happens again... www.westminster.edu
Never again until it happens again… www.westminster.edu

I know many of  us ask ‘WWID:  What would I do?’  if we were in that position:  an almost impossible question to ask.

A better question: WWID (What will I do) to prevent the next hate crime, was posed at the US Holocaust Museum’s 20th Anniversary Conference.

The good news is there are things each of us can do.   And why I think there needs to be a movement.   And a slogan.

An ‘Only YOU can prevent Genocide, hate crimes, and bullying’.

If there is a slogan to prevent forest fires, why NOT genocide and hate crimes?

How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokey-if-not-you-hubpages-com.jpg
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokeyifnotyou@hubpages-com
As a conflict management facilitator, and during my visit to Auschwitz,  I’ve often asked:  what causes people to hate so much they commit hate crimes: Holocausts and genocides?     (I will say though, it’s not the best conversation starter at parties….)  
But here’s the reason I think each of us are the answer:  Hate crimes start small: with one person’s hate.  The Holocaust is thought of as one murder happening six million times.  That’s a lot of individual acts of hate.  If we look at this as a personal, and individual problem, we can do something about it.  
Yes, I’m optimistic and naive.

So I’m proposing these 6 steps we can all take:

  1. We all need to be secure in our own identity
  2. Fill yourself with Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness
  3. Know and apply history – don’t just learn it
  4. Meet people outside your comfort zone
  5. Stay awake and involved in our global world
  6. Stand up and take action on your beliefs

I’ll be writing about these in the coming weeks.  Before I get started though,  I realized:  We need Constant Reminders

Somehow, we need to keep the danger of genocide front and center (so people will follow these steps).    And there are way too many things competing for our attention every second thanks to social media.

My first thought was Smokey the Bear:

A bookmark reminder!
A bookmark reminder!

But I realize that preventing forest fires is preventing an ACTION!  

Genocides are about THOUGHT, EMOTION, FEAR. 

Fires still start by people.

But we need a specific reminder.  Here’s one thought:

Only YOU can prevent genocide.  A bit inelegant, but a start.
Inelegant, perhaps, but I had to add again…

Images can be powerful, especially in our image filled world.  One ‘Smokey’ image eerily coincided with an anti-genocide message:

Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness - of words and action.  Prevent hate crimes
I think this is kind of creepy…. Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness – of words and action. Prevent hate crimes

Next prep:  Sharing stories

I’d like to say we need to learn history and be ‘educated’.  But it seems we’ve tried that.  Stories though, are powerful in learning about the effect of genocide and hate crimes and filling us with a sense of empathy and compassion.  And it’s this emotion we can build on.

The UN Symposium on Preventing Genocide with ‘A Meaningful World’ on April 4th, began with a film:

Starved and ragged men being marched down the streets, officers on horseback rounding them up, children alone and crying on the street, people with bundles of clothing on the street in front of their home.

This was uncomfortably familiar footage:  it looked exactly like what I’d seen from the Holocaust.

neveeragain1915suite101.com

But no, this was from the first genocide of the 20th century:  The Armenian genocide by the Turks in 1915.

Did you know about it?  I didn’t.  How is that possible I had to ask myself.

One speaker shared this thought:  ‘When Hitler was asked about his place in history regarding the murder of Jews he said:

“Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?

Wow!!

And as Dr. Ani Kalayjian, A Meaningful World’s leader said, “When we help another…Both are made stronger.”

What are your reminders to act with kindness, empathy and compassion?

How do you gather stories from others?  What have you learned from them?

Empathy: Be kind

7 Jan

I love this quote, so key, so true of empathy:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
by Saint Philo of Alexandria

(and recently read in the book, ‘The other side of the world’, by Jay Neugeboren)

I always think of empathy as the key to connecting and understanding others – and even myself.  While this post is from one of my other blogs:  http://identity5772.wordpress.com, it certainly is essential to communication.  And what’s more fashionable than shoes, but good communication!

Here’s to blister-free walking this week!

Shes!  When did shoes become the go-to destination for journeys to nirvana?  When did well-appointed heels turn cads into princes and transform us plain girls to ‘sex-y in the city’?   Or has footwear always been as important to fashion as the saying: ‘Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes’  has been to identity and peace?

Does our penchant for buying shoes, amassing Imelda Marcos or Carrie Bradshaw sized collections speak to our need to understand others?   Do new shoes provide  the potential and ability to walk that mile to understanding?

My footwear reflects my soul and mirrors my identity.  My journeys are on

Shoes fit for my very long journeys

foot and I’ve learned the hard way that Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahnik’s derail my  joy into train wrecks.

Footwear can define identity, and, is just as complicated.   I recently told a dear friend, ‘we may wear the same size, but we like and wear very different shoes – literally and figuratively’.

It can be hard to understand someone you love.  Someone  whose footwear appears interchangeable with your own.  Different styles, different

One pre-Xmas night, a group of young men were camped in front of a shoe store on 34th Street in Manhattan. They were spending the night to be first in line to buy the ‘newest’ sneakers. What kind? What did they look like? No-one knew – just that they wanted them.

toes add difficulty relating to the owner of the heart-pumping-blood to those other  toes. As a species focusing on souls, rather than soles, and the miles journeyed, can surely help promote listening, peace and, understanding identity.

Empathy, the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, to listen for  identity without bias or judgement.   Knowing and doing are two totally different things.

Empathy can improve communication and connection, if that  first giant step is taken:  to understand what someone else is feeling or what they need.

Swapping metaphoric  ‘shoes’:  Would any genocide occur if perpetrators imagined themselves, or their mothers, or wives, or children as victims?  Would they say ‘NO’ to crimes of hate?

This must be a key to peace as I wrote about in my recent post ‘Peace Requires Listening’.

Daniel Lubetzky,CEO of Kind Bars and PeaceWorks remarked (one of) the key to Palestinian-Israeli peace is for Israeli’s to listen to Palestinian needs.  I think a shoe swap and long survival hike might help.

I’ve often found empathy, along with blisters, after finding myself on a path with someone I’ve judged.  ‘Blisters’ force me to slow down, open my eyes, acknowledge the pain.

It’s painful to listen if we are not sure of our identity, or we are not on firm footing ourselves. In Vilna, Lithuania (‘Dinner in Vilna’), Lilly said she was unhappy before she focused her identity and connected with Judaism.

Some say shoe shopping, especially during a sale, is a religious experience. There are other ways to worship.

Empathy.  Walking that metaphoric mile.  Several years ago, I discovered the cure:

Imagine these pills shaped like SHOES: Empathy pills!

A pill.

A shoe-shaped empathy pill.  

Mid-judgement, mid-hate action, a quick pill pop would change everything with, ‘Here, walk a mile in my shoes.  Have an empathy pill.’

As soon as a pharmaceutical company gets back to me, I’ll take your orders.

In the meantime, how has a pair of shoes helped you understand others, or, shaped or defined your identity? 

What leg of your journey has developed your empathy?