Susan G. Bednar, LCSW

Safe from Hate

I will keep my message very simple today.  It’s about hate.  For many Americans, Thanksgiving Day kicks off the holiday season–a season in which we give thanks for all that we have, share fabulous meals and gifts with our loved ones, and reminisce about all that has gone well for us in the year about to close.  If we are thoughtful, compassionate people, we may think about those less fortunate than ourselves as well.  This holiday season, I urge you to do more than think about them in passing.  Many Americans are suffering and are terrified of what might happen next.

This year has witnessed an especially contentious election season, and with it an alarming increase in vicious and baseless attacks.  The rhetoric has included hate speech and threats directed towards minorities, especially Muslim Americans, Mexican Americans, and immigrants and refugees of all types.  It has included the ridicule of people with disabilities, and demeaning and sexist remarks about women.  It has encouraged white supremacist groups who have been lurking in the shadows to once again become active and vocal.  The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks incidents of hate, has reported 701 incidents of hateful harassment during the week following the election alone. Another report released by them in April of 2016 documented an “alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom” during the period leading up to the election.  You could say we have stooped to new lows during and since this election.  No, maybe we even slithered in the muck on our bellies.  The campaign seems to have brought out the worst in us, and continues to promote bigotry, misogyny, and hatred in its aftermath.

This is not just about conservatives vs. liberals, although there is certainly a partisan element.  Neither is it just about the fortunate becoming insensitive to the less fortunate.  This is about who we are as Americans.  Are we a decent and compassionate people, who truly believe in liberty and justice for all?  Or are we a band of cruel, hateful bigots who delight in inflicting pain and suffering on any who do not look like us and worship like us?  Are we still the great melting pot–a diverse and tolerant nation?  Or have we become a nation of ignorant and narrow-minded white men intent on imposing their will on everyone else?  Will we remain the leaders of the free world?  Or will we devolve into a primitive, autocratic state that preys on others?  Must large segments of our population live in continued fear of the rest of us?  Or will we in the end get a grip on ourselves, dig down deep, and commit to keeping our citizens–all of them–and our nation safe from hate?

Each of us has some important decisions to make about our future.  I hope we choose wisely.

 

Important Note:  This blog is intended for informational and discussion purposes only, and does not substitute for professional care.  Your circumstances may differ from those discussed, and your needs may be different.  If you are experiencing distress you feel unable to resolve on your own, please seek assistance from a qualified professional of your choice.