Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hate

It seems that the current political climate has brought out the worst in us. Everywhere I turn, I hear stories of hate. 
 
In 5th grade, I was riding the bus home from school as I always did. A neighborhood boy chucked a penny at my head and told me that I should take it because my people were used to taking money from others.  Money that did not belong to them. I rubbed the place on my scalp where the penny hit and I felt tears well up in my eyes. What was he talking about? I knew I was different because I didn’t celebrate Christmas like the other kids on my block, but did different mean bad? And why was he so angry? I never understood it. I still don’t.

My mother was born in Brooklyn but raised in a small town in Pennsylvania. One year, while working her way through college and a department store, someone noticed her name tag and figured out (correctly) that she was Jewish. They asked her where she was hiding her horns. She was aghast. Her what? The customer was not being mean. Not at all. She just heard that Jewish people had horns and wanted to know where hers were. I think she also asked if she had a tail.

Ask any minority for a story of ignorance and hate and you will find they have more than one to tell.

When my non-Jewish husband and I first started to date, I told him early on that Judaism was a part of me. It is as much a part of me as my skin and bones.  He asked if I wanted him to convert to my religion. I replied that it was not necessary, unless he wanted to be Jewish. I can live in a house and a family that shares different views, as long as I am still free to have mine.

Why does ignorance breed hate? Why can’t we all get along? Am I naïve to think that a world in which we embrace our differences is a better world than one in which we are afraid to send our children to school or afraid to be out alone walking at night?

I have a young daughter. I do not want anyone to ever throw pennies at her. I do not want anyone to ask her where she is hiding her horns or her tail. I do not want anyone to dislike her right away simply because she has different religious beliefs as those around her. Or because she was adopted. Or because of this thing or that thing.  I want her to be proud of who she is. I am proud of her every day, because she is true to herself. It's easy to be when you are on the brink of turning 4!

I want a world that is safe for her. I worry more and more that what I want for her is quickly slipping away. That scares me so much more than I can say.

Let’s learn to love more and hate less. Wouldn’t we all be better off that way?

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