Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fighting a Culture of Hate

I often think a lot these days about something I see developing around the world. It has been developing over the course of years, I am sure, but I have really began to take notice in the last three years. That is a culture of hate. Brazilians, for example, often slam America for its' President and his policies, lumping Americans in general with the government. Africans do the same, lumping Americans in with Europeans. And Democrats and Republicans seem hateful toward each other today. We seem to have lot any sense of commonality and instead see only the differences that divide us. I stuggle myself with this, because the lies and exaggerations I so often hear spreading make me angry and resentful. They are distortions of the facts and used to reflect badly on honest people like me who have firm convictions and are highly educated but also deeply passionate about our views and our compassion for others. And more and more this has me wondering: are we building for tomorrow a culture of hate?

I firmly believe there is nothing we could do to more aid the spread of terrorism than allow a culture of hate to develop in our countries. If good, decent people who work hard to love their families and provide for them cannot see past the ideological differences to the fact that they have the same ultimate goals as each other despite this, then how can we hope to help our children have the same goals? They will get lost in the angry ideology and this is what breeds terrorism. Angry ideology with no roots in goals of family, work, and a better life. All they want is to destroy those who do not share their views. Insane ideologists like Osama Bin-Laden feed on this kind of thing and they use it to create terrorist bombers. Think I am wrong? Look at the reactions of the families of young men involved in the July 7 London bombings. Surprise. Dismay. Denial. They never imagined they were raising a terrorist. Never saw their own child headed for this distruction. But look what happened.

Brazil and America have large media infrastructure. In Brazil, there seems to be no sense of the ethical restraints we have so often believe American journalists operate with. But as we are seeing from recent incidents involving Time Magazine, CBS News and more, those ethical restraints are failing even here, and worse, open bias in reporting has become the norm, not the exception. This just feeds the anger of those with a different ideology from those reporting the news and feeds their frustration. It makes them want to fight back to spread their own ideology, and the cycle continues. The culture of hatred gets more ammunition and moves further and further into reality.

In Brazil, and to some degree this is becoming more and more true in the U.S., there is increased deadening of reaction to violence. In Brazil there are more murders per capita in Rio De Janeiro, the second largest city, than in whole countries have in several years. That is just one city. Brazilians killing each other, robbing each other, is a common reality. Though I did meet one Brazilian teenager who denied such things ever occurred. In America, with violence in movies, television, even news outlets, more and more we are not shocked or saddened any more. We just react with resolve: "This is how the world is today." Maybe that is why the problem just gets worse and worse. If we were actually shocked and aghast, maybe we would fight harder to change things.

Some of you may think I am being alarmist, but just pay attention. I would love nothing more than to be wrong about this, but I fear that my predictions will prove true. If that is the case, America must be concerned about homegrown terrorists in its midst. Look at the young Muslims already arrested fighting AGAINST U.S. troops in Afghanistan! What if what happened in London, happens here? We are closer than we know and we all need to take action to reverse the dangerous course.

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