Fighting Hatred

I was saddened to learn of an incident during our Veterans’ Day Parade that involved unknown people putting racially offensive flyers on cars in the downtown area.  Anyone with much knowledge of U.S. history knows that veterans of all races have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country and our greatest ideals.  There is never an appropriate time for bigotry, but I find it hard to imagine a more inappropriate moment to express this form of hatred than during an event to honor those who have sacrificed on behalf of all of us.  The cowardice of posting anonymous hate messages stands in stark contrast to the willingness to openly defend our country and its values.

It doesn’t require much effort to condemn hatred, and I think it’s appropriate that we do so whenever it surfaces in our community.  I think it’s more important, however, to act against it every day through respect, compassion, and exercise of the Golden Rule.  We may never know the person or people who littered our community with hate, but we can defeat their message with kindness and flyers of our own.  An example of that kindness arrived in the form of an e-mail from the library while I was writing this column:

I want you to know your influence from Monday’s story time with my 4.5 year old… He is in the kitchen right now singing, “If you’re happy and you know it shout OLE!” When my husband shouted “hooray!”, Jacoby said, “No, Daddy! OLE!” :)  He just soaked in the entire story time and loved it!  I just had Parent/Teacher Conference with my first grader’s teachers tonight and they didn’t realize there was a bilingual story time and asked me to send them the flyer.

While a few may be spreading messages of hate, many more are reaching out and positively affecting the lives of those around them.  I routinely hear these stories and see examples of selfless service from people in Albany every day.  Perhaps the most important thing we can do is teach our children kindness, both through lessons and example.  I know the world we live in today is far from perfect, but I also know there is much greater opportunity for people of all races, less tolerance of hate and more inclusion than there was in the world when I was “4.5” years old.

As we condemn the malicious acts of the few, I hope we will also commit ourselves to action.  Our words are important, but what we do every day will really give us cause to shout hooray and ole.