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you've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be carefully taught

Daniel Pearl's killer has been sentenced to death.

This is not a discussion about my views on death sentences. Maybe some other time. I do want to talk about Daniel Pearl and what he stood for and why I am supporting the Daniel Pearl Foundation in the July 27 Blogathon.

In a statement released today by Danny Pearl's family in regards to the verdict, the family said:

We are confident that around the world people will continue to be inspired by Danny's courage and commitment to truth, humanity, and dialogue, and we call upon them to rise against all forms of hatred and intolerance.

And that is basically what the Daniel Pearl Foundation is all about. To bring people of different cultures and backgrounds together, to promote understanding and tolerance of people who differ from ourselves.

The Daniel Pearl Foundation has been formed by Danny's family and friends to continue Danny's mission and to address the root causes of this tragedy, in the spirit, style, and principles that shaped Danny's work and character. These principles include uncompromised objectivity and integrity; insightful and unconventional perspective; tolerance and respect for people of all cultures; unshaken belief in the effectiveness of education and communication; and the love of music, humor, and friendship.

Just as much as tolerance and acceptance begins at home, so does hatred and fear. If children are taught to fear differences and not accept others who may pray or speak or dress differently than they do, that's where hatred begins.

The school district here has a wide and varied multi-culturalism program. It is necessary to have because this district is no longer the sea of white faces it used to be. Our schools are now ethnically and racially diverse. And we need to embrace that diversity. We need to understand each other and learn about each other in order to live together as peaceful neighbors.

My children have learned acceptance through being submerged in culturally mixed school system. They have learned it at home, too, because I try to set a good example in this matter when so many around them are closed-minded and elitist about their own culture or race or religion.

They have learned through songs and poetry and fiction. They have learned directly from those around them - from the classmates who wear the traditional dress of their nations or religions, from learning the language and customs of those cultures, from having friends who differ in the way they speak and look and even eat.

We embrace the different cultures of our friends and neighbors, in much the same way some children are taught to hate those very people. Sometimes the teachings of hatred are subtle, there are racial slurs used and generalizations made and children, after hearing this every day of their young lives, grow up to believe it as truth. They are taught to fear differences rather than learning about them. Fear is what hatred is borne out of.

You've got to be taught to hate and fear You've got to be taught from year to year It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late;
Before you are 6 or 7 or 8 !
To hate all the people your relatives hate.
You've got to be carefully taught.....
You've got to be carefully taught.

written by Hammerstein; from "South Pacific"


Our world will never be one of peace until we learn to view each and every person on this earth as a human being, nothing more, nothing less. We need to teach our children to love and respect regardless of race or religion or ideology or sexual orientation or language or dress or class. We need to teach them to not judge a culture on the basis of what one evil person does. Just as much as you do not represent all the people of your race or religion, one madman does not represent all the people of his. One tyrant, one dictator, one suicide bomber, one terrorist, one killer, one hate mongerer does not represent everyone who looks like them or comes from the same place as them.

Conversely, one peace activist, one person who works tirelessly to promote understanding, does not, sadly, represent all who are his religion or race or culture. There is still a lot of work to be done. There is still a long way to go before we are a peaceful planet. As long as we keep combatting the teaching of hatred and fear with the teaching of understanding and tolerance, we are doing our work. We are promoting peace. One voice, one hundred voices, one thousand voices. If the voices keep growing, we can make a chorus of peace.


(you can still sponsor me for the blogathon - all donations go to the Daniel Pearl Foundation)

Comments

Michele, you will always be my hero.

(and the only reason I haven't donated yet is because when you convert my Canadian pittance to US$, it looks ridiculous - I thought it would be insulting to pledge a lousy $6.54 US)

If I had a buck to spare, you would have it. But, my next two paychecks are 90% accounted for! Thanks for chosing a good charity; Danny was a close friend of my family's (my uncle was his boss in London and gave the eulogy at his funeral).