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If you want to stop the hate, start the love

jsoutherniconThe news in recent weeks has been heartbreaking.

From the mass shootings in an Orlando nightclub to shootings of police officers in Dallas, the hate-driven violence in America today is unconscionable. All of these murders are so senseless … so inconceivable.

It seems that every time there is a shooting that people want to talk about gun control. Gun control is not the issue. Let’s talk about hate control. What are the issues going on in this country that cause such deep hatred and anger? Why can’t we all just get along?

Why can’t we stop Muslim extremists from inflicting their reign of hate, terror and mass murder in and against this country? It was a Muslim extremist who killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in Orlando. What fueled his hate? Why are our political leaders more focused on his method of mayhem than its cause?

Why can’t we stop the violence between law enforcement and the black community? Yes, police brutality is a problem that needs to be addressed, but it is not justification for the murder of innocent officers. From Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth last August to the five slain police officers last week in Dallas there is simply no justification for these crimes against cops.

I don’t understand such willful, blind hatred. I don’t understand what would cause such extreme rage in a person. Clearly, this kind of hate has to be taught and nurtured. I suspect it is forged in homes and fueled by the media. The intense desire to murder someone by shooting them in the back because of the color of their skin or the uniform they wear has to well-up from somewhere. How do we find it and how do we stop it?

We find it everywhere. We stop it with love.

Racism is a disease of the mind and heart. It’s spread by fear and ignorance. I would say the same for what I call policism. Policism is a fear and hatred of law enforcement officers akin to racism being fear and hatred of people of another race.

I grew up in lily-white rural Colorado. I didn’t see a black person until I was 7 or 8 years old. I was afraid of black people because I was told they hated whites. I moved to North Carolina in my mid-20s and lived in a city that was roughly half black and half white. I saw rampant racism on both sides. It did nothing to quell my fear of blacks. I did get to make friends with several blacks, but I was also treated quite rudely by some. I was always afraid to make a misstep around black people for fear of being hurt or branded a racist.

When I moved to the Houston area at the end of 2008, one of the first stories I worked on was the corruption case against two black city councilmen in Hempstead. I was very uncomfortable with that, but forged on as fairly and professionally as I could. I worked very deliberately to focus on behavior and not color.

A turning point for me came when my family joined First Colony Church of Christ in Sugar Land and Troop 1000 in Richmond. Both are very ethnically diverse in their membership and have afforded me the opportunity to get to meet and know people of different races in safe and positive environments.

Now, some of my closest and most trusted friends are black. I quit thinking of them in terms of their race or color a long time ago. It took me a year or so to get out of the mindset of having “black friends” versus just having friends. It’s just not blacks either. I am very happy and honored to call lots of people of different races and ethnicities my friend. I pride myself on my colorblindness when it comes to people. It’s very liberating and refreshing to see and experience people as individuals and not by factors they cannot control.

All this hate and violence of late just goes against the grain of everything I’ve learned and discovered about others and myself the past several years. It blows my mind and hurts my heart. It’s so unnecessary, evil and vile. If people would just talk to one another and try to get to know and understand people not like themselves, the world would be a much better place.

It’s hard to dislike someone when you have shared a laugh and discovered common ground with them. When it comes to policism, there are things both sides can do to de-escalate the conflict. It all begins with love. I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how blacks are taught to be extra polite and respectful toward the police if they want to survive. Shouldn’t politeness and respect be shown to everyone anyway? Has anyone stopped to think that rude and disrespectful behavior is at the root of the problem? It goes both ways.

I think this is harder for the police because they are often dealing with the worst of humanity under the worst of conditions. That often results in unpleasant responses and pictures and video on the nightly news and social media that often spin things the wrong way. That further inflames negative attitudes toward the police and it becomes a downward spiral.

I think the Black Lives Matter movement and those who Back the Blue have a common goal in mind, they just come at it from different perspectives. Opening a dialog and working toward that common goal should be an objective of everyone involved.

As for the more complicated matter of radical Islamic extremists, that is going to be much more difficult. You’re talking about the lunatic fringe of an otherwise peaceful religion that is so enveloped in its hate that the ability to come to a peaceful understanding may be beyond their comprehension. You can’t rationalize with someone whose objective is your annihilation.

When it comes to dealing with radical Islam, two famous quotes come to mind. The first from Teddy Roosevelt: “Speak softly [show love] and carry a big stick.” The second applies not only to radical Muslims, but in dealings with all people.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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