I was shocked to read about more hate crimes against Jewish people and other religious groups. Two days ago a teenager In Ottawa was charged with uttering threats and mischief to religious buildings. He is responsible for putting up racist graffiti at a Jewish synagogue and community center. As I read this report I had these two nagging questions: When and from who did this young man learn hate? What kind of society are we becoming?
I agree with community and political leaders that if we do not stand in solidarity against hate in any form then we are not being a true community that cares for its people. The Canada I love with all of my heart is better than this. We are known world-wide for our compassion. We care. We believe as we reach out and help others in their time of need, we show that love is not just a word; it is an action of the human heart.
We need to condemn all hate crimes. If we don’t then we will have the kind of world that existed in the evil of the Third Reich led by the maniacal madman, Adolf Hitler. Many might argue this is an exaggeration of the reality that currently exists. The sad truth is that there are white supremacist groups all around the world such as the Patriotic Youth League in Australia, which describes itself as ‘radical nationalists’ and ‘pro white.’ There is the Aryan Guard and the National Socialist Party in Canada. The National Socialist Party uses a flag featuring a red swastika and a field of blue. The Ku Klux Klan has between 5,000 and 8,000 members split among dozens of different organizations that use the Klan name as of 2012. The K.K.K. is active in the United States. It was in Canada in the 1920s and through the 1930s.1 It continues to strike terror into people’s hearts with its ongoing campaign of extremist activities.
We are no longer immune from terror. 911 shattered our sense of security. The world has not been the same since then. In Canada we mourn the loss of Corporal Nathan Cirillo as he was ceremonially guarding the War Memorial in Ottawa and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was struck with a car by Martin Couture-Roleau, who the R.C.M.P. say had been radicalized. Countries throughout the world remain in a state of hyper-vigilance for another terrorist attack. Some would say putting graffiti on walls isn’t terrorism, but the result is the same – the spreading of fear. No one should have to wake up and feel fearful that they will see messages of hate and intolerance, I will not give the power of those insulting words to repeat.
We come back to this young man. If we punish him with a jail sentence in a youth facility perhaps that will turn him around, but what if it has the opposite effect? It could turn him into a hardened criminal. I propose a different way of dealing with him. If he is found guilty or pleads guilty, give him several thousand hours of community service working with the Ottawa police hate crimes unit. Let him see the damage hating others causes. It will leave a lasting impression upon him.
This young man will not be rehabilitated without receiving counselling to get to the root issue(s) why he hates people from different cultural and religious backgrounds. He needs to learn to have compassion for others different from himself, and to deal with why he fears them. He will need help processing all he sees, while working to help those who have experienced abuse from those who have committed hate crimes.
We must temper our indignation with concern for this young man’s future. He still has time to be redeemed if those making decisions about his future do not let their our own hatred of his actions to harden them.
We must end the politics of hatred. There has been far too much of that. If we don’t work together to end the teaching of hatred our children and our children’s children will inherit a world filled with more hate than love.
Our parents and grandparents did not become soldiers willing to sacrifice their lives in order to have a world filled with the poison of hatred. The writer Kurt Vonnegut aptly describes hate being “about as nourishing as cyanide.”It kills the love inside of us like a corrosive poison. Love is the antidote to hate. Love changes us inside. It frees us to love others.
What are your thoughts? What would you have happen to this young man?
I welcome what you have to say.
Please take time to reflect upon this thought.
Kevin and Karen Osborne are Christian pastoral counsellors and psychotherapists. Kevin is studying to become a chaplain and professor of Psychology specializing in Pastoral Theology. We have started You Can Hope Again Counselling. Karen enjoys doing cross-stitch while I like writing and singing songs. Karen makes me laugh when she sings the kitty bed-time song saying, “It’s that time. It’s the bestest kitty time of the day!” Kevin enjoys teasing the kitties and making them do kitty dances with music. Their kitty, Catherine, loves it when kitty daddeh sings All Things Bright and Beautiful. Kevin likes doing impressions. He tells children’s stories and helps others with their problems using his hand puppet, Dr. Teddy, who is a therapy bear. He is a partner with us in our counselling practice.We are available to assist with worship and preaching to give busy pastors and ministers a much-needed break. We offer in-office, and phone counselling to anyone in the world.