Of Freedom And Hate

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen.

This week, us Jews celebrate Passover (Pesach) and a cosmic alignment of events took place and as per usual, history lessons and current affairs did the tango. That is to say, we do tend to go around in circles.

Passover means many things to us, but first and foremost it is a holiday of freedom. You know the main plot, I even went ahead and complimented the writer in THIS post. Slaves liberated, free to go back to their home. Free.

Many of us are lucky to live in free countries (well, more on that on a separate post) where we can do pretty much anything and pursue our happiness, as long as we don’t break any law. There’s a lot to be said about the extent to which we can do so, but for the sake of this discussion, let’s take the above as a truth, shall we?

Having said that, we are witnesses to some horrendous acts done by men. As individual incidents, these could be dissected and provide material for countless blog posts. But the acts I’m referring to are tied to freedoms. Mostly, the freedom of speech.

Let’s look at a couple of these acts.

On the same week, Passover week, two seemingly separate incidents took place. One in Kansas USA and the other in the west bank. The first involved a bigoted KKK man (and I use this phrase loosely) who shot three Jews for being Jews, and the second a Palestinian shooting a man in front of his wife.

Now, before we turn this into a political debate, I’ll go ahead and mention two other incidents. One involving an Israeli soldier (again, I use this phrase loosely) on his way home or to the army, shooting at innocent Arab citizens inside a bus. The second, of course, a religious fanatic, shooting Muslim worshipers in a sacred cave in the west bank.

The first two acts are recent, the other two happened a few years ago, but they both relate directly to the freedom of speech. These individuals would not have done what they have done, had they not been fed the most dangerous poison of all time – hate.

As opposed to popular belief, Jews don’t hate Arabs and Arabs do not hate Jews. Individuals hate other individuals. But when a baby is born, he’s not aware in which “bucket” society puts him. He doesn’t know hate. He is taught hate.

Now, we do like to talk. We love that freedom. And why shouldn’t we? It’s a basic right to be able to voice your opinion. Hell, I’m doing it right this very moment. So who are you to shut me up, right?

In times like these, with internet and easy access to media platforms, it’s even simpler to spread hate. Anyone with rudimentary understanding of blogging, or many other outlets can start a fire. Sadly, it might be even easier to spread hate than any other thing because hate is bread through fear, and playing on a person’s prejudice, sensitivities and other easily manipulated mechanisms. Mush easier than say… love, forgiveness, acceptance, peace…

The sad truth is that, with so much “material” to work with, all man doings, every hateful notion can be easily supported with “facts”.

‘Of course Arabs hate the Jews. Here are some horrific terrorists for you”

“Of course the Jews hate the Arabs. Here’s a lunatic promising to blow up the Mosque on temple mount.”

“Of course black people are criminals. Look at this prisoner. He’s black”

“Of course white people are lying, manipulative SOBs. Look at Madoff, he’s white.”

Humanity gives us so many reasons to hate, all we need is a “push in the right direction”… So what do we do? People take these hateful messages and act on them, that is a fact.

Well, we could of course ask our leaders to put more limitations on the freedom of speech. It may land some of these A holes in prison. It could possibly dilute the volume of hateful incitement and reduce the number of hate crimes.

I hope that as you read that last sentence, you realized how pointless and harmful that would be.

Yes, these hate crimes are all built on top of propaganda, preaching and smears under the protection of the freedom of speech. They’re all deplorable and there’s no excuse for any of them. Yes, I sometimes browse through  some talk-backs to an article and wish that some of these guys get arrested for the damaging comments they post. But in the end of the day, I have to remind myself of two things.

First and foremost, it is a slippery slope. The minute we agree to give up basic rights, they would be gladly taken away, and to an extent none of us can control. This basic right to have your say is the core of democracy. The rule of the people. Without the people being able to speak we might as well give up every other right.

In addition it’s a classic “Today it’s you, and me tomorrow” situation. If the right to speak is compromised, it’s not a one way street.

So what do we do?

The only tool we have in our disposal is… the freedom of speech. Hate is an easy sale. Much easier than love. We’re far less open and accepting than we’d like to think of ourselves. But if we want to see less hate, there’s only one thing we can do. And it’s to spread the love 🙂

I know, how very 60s of me. But really, what other choice do we have? So go out there and hug a stranger. Stand up to racism, bigotry and hate. Don’t be a little cynic and smile damn it!

This blog is open for opinions, comments, ideas or anything other than hate. So tell me – what can we do to counter this hate?

Until we meet again, Peace out,