Why We Can’t Fence Sit On Hate In Business and Life
After the events in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend a huge majority of the country finally woke up to the vast extent of the hate pumping through the hearts and minds of many in the U.S. My intent in writing this is not to be political because hate is not a political issue it is a humanitarian. So before you dismiss me as a snowflake please hear me out. I have family and friends on both sides of the political aisle and I truly believe that all of those people are good and decent people. This piece is about right and wrong and rejecting and fighting back against evil. Hate should always rise above political affiliations. Philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist George Santayana is credited with saying
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
If we stop reading history books we will forget the valuable lessons of stomping out the Nazis in World War II. There is no excuse for driving a car through a crowd of people. That is murder and terrorism. U.S companies are realizing that there is no fence sitting in this day and age and you must pick a side, good or evil. This was evident as CEOs and business leaders across the country came out with statements against hate this week.
Growing up I was (and still am) very interested in history. One of my earliest memories of a lesson in hate was when in the second grade I innocently drew a swastika on the classroom chalkboard. My teacher rightfully freaked out and yelled at me. I was just reproducing something that I saw on TV or in a textbook, and at the time I had no idea what that symbol meant and represented. I am not even sure if the teacher ever told my parents or just left it as a lesson for the classroom. The teacher explained to us all that it was a symbol of pure hate and ignorance.
As I grew up i learned about the horror of the Holocaust and how Hitler gained power by playing on people’s fears. Like most, I assumed racism, sexism, homophobia, and hating someone because of where they were from in the world or which religion they were born into would eventually die out with all of the hateful people.
I underestimated that hate is a horrible cycle of ignorance, repeated generation after generation.
It is no wonder that the most retweeted Tweet in history came from former President Obama in the days after Charlottesville,
I watched the Charlottesville Vice episode this week and it deeply scares me.
This week I also did something that I do every few years when I want to remember the past. My grandfather served the United States in World War II. He was stationed all over the world and fought Nazi scum. I was only in fifth grade when he passed away so I never really had a chance to ask him about his service to our country or thank him for it. As an adult, my mom gave me some of his things from the War. They include some of his medals and ribbons he wore but also include reminders of hate that he removed from soldiers from Nazi Germany.
I like to look at all of the things in this box every once in awhile to remind myself the dangers of hate and the danger of not speaking up. They remind me of the greatest generation who stood up to hate. We must not stay silent when hate, racism, sexism, and xenophobia are growing within.
The sad part is I no longer need relics of hate from World War II to be reminded of how much hate exists across the US and the world.
Standing up to evil can take on many forms.
It can be speaking up when a coworker or neighbor thinks you are a fellow racist and slips in an offensive comment. It can be simply driving home lessons to our children that the phobic cycles of hate that they will inevitably encounter on America’s vast diverse playgrounds are not only unacceptable in our homes but also in in society. It means ending friendships with people from high school or college who clearly express racist beliefs. It also means non violent protest even when the other side is armed.
Education, kindness, love and peace are the only way to end hate. The majority of people in this world are good and afraid to speak up, but if we remain silent we are doomed to repeat the past.