Love, Tolerance

Why We Must Reject White Nationalism

The United States has seen an increase in White Nationalism in recent years. It is made manifest in the Alt-Right movement, an increase in hate crimes, and an uptick in hate and bias in schools.

Just because White Nationalism is on the rise though does not make it proper or correct. We must reject White Nationalism due to the fact that it is based upon a false premise. White Nationalism assumes that some group of factors ascribed to someone’s appearance makes them somehow superior to others who look differently. This is absurd!

Take skin color for instance. We know based upon scientific fact that melanin determines skin color. The more melanin you have in your skin the darker your skin color will appear. End of story. We can’t ascribe any attributes to a person based upon their skin color other than they have more melanin. The amount of melanin in your skin has nothing to do with your intelligence, your values, or anything else. I am a white male and to say that I am somehow superior because I have less melanin in my skin is preposterous and – frankly – silly. Therefore, White Nationalism or White Supremacy of any kind is simply wrong-headed.

We must all own the fact that all people are generally the same. No matter what our skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else, we all want and need food and shelter, we all want to love and be loved, and we all want to be respected and to be free to live our best lives. We are not so different. We should love everyone no matter what they look like, where they come from, whom they love, or  what their religion.

Look for the similarities in others. Find ways to empathize with everyone with whom you come in contact. I promise you will find that we all have a great deal more in common than we have in difference. Open your mind and heart to loving all people and you will find that we are truly one great sibling-hood of humanity. 

I say all of this and I must add that I do not and will not hate White Nationalists and White Supremacists. They’re not unredeemably bad people. They’re simply wrong. I believe that with time and with enough love we can change their hearts and minds.

Over time we will prove that we are all quite similar. Peace is possible. But it will take time and a great deal of love. So keep loving! Keep extending respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness to all people. The world will be the better for it, and so will you.

Matthew Vasko

Founder & CEO, Century of Compassion

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compassion, empathy, kindness, Love, respect

How to Fix America

From sea to shining sea, The United States of America has a problem. We see it made manifest in school and church shootings, in protests that erupt into violence, and in small ways in confrontations on our social media feeds. America has a hate problem.

In recent years, we Americans have divided ourselves into smaller and smaller groups based upon a variety of factors from race to class to political affiliation. It is creating a growing us vs. them mentality that is pitting brothers against brothers and daughters against mothers. Americans are drawing lines in the sand and painting everyone on the other side of the lines as their enemies.

If our current pattern of behavior continues unabated the result will be only greater and greater acts of violence that could lead to an all-out civil war. There is no doubt that our divisions are pulling us apart from the inside. We need to break the pattern of violence and hate, but how?

The first thing we need to do is to stop making enemies of one another. I believe this starts by refusing to think of each other as enemies. The problem with thinking of people as your enemy is that you start imagining them doing all sorts of horrible things which escalates your internal hatred of them. Prophetic thinkers such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. realized that in order to maintain a nonviolent attitude we must not think of people as our enemies, even when they are in clear opposition to us. We need to separate the people from the negative value or principle we associate with them. For example, people who hold racist views are not my enemy: racism is my enemy.

We must fight the internal struggle to love all people regardless of what those people might think or believe. People can change and we need to give them the freedom to do that by separating them from the thing about them we oppose. We need to realize that we have more in common with everyone than not – even with people who are in opposition to us.

What I mean is this. We human beings really aren’t all that much different. We all want the same things. We want to be respected and loved, we want people in our lives whom we value and love, and we want sustenance, security and shelter. Yes, there are things that divide us, but there are universal wants and needs that we all share in common.

We need to continue to seek out the commonalities with one another and stop dwelling so much upon our differences. We need to have meaningful dialogue with people who are different than us and get past our differences to find our commonalities. The more we seek out the commonalities with one another the more we will empathize with one another and the more that we will care for one another. Through empathy and caring, love can overpower hate, but it takes time and meaningful dialogue.

Sharpen these four tools and keep them in your toolbox. They are respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness.

Show respect to all people – even people whose philosophies you oppose. Remember that you need to give respect in order to get respect. Give it freely and hope for it in return. Show that you are a big enough person to be able to have respect for all – even those who are in opposition to you.

Look for similarities between yourself and others in order to find ways to empathize with them. Know that empathy is possible with everyone. We are all human beings and we share so much in common. Know in your heart that you are more alike than you are different from every single person on the planet.

Reach out to everyone with compassion. Know that all people suffer. It is a simple fact of life. To live is to suffer and therefore we can all identify with and have compassion for the suffering in others. Having compassion for other’s suffering can cause them to reframe how they view you. Perhaps they will find you to be a good person and learn to love you.

Finally, move through the world with an attitude of kindness. We humans tend to undervalue kindness, but kindness can lay a foundation for all sorts of positive interactions. Entering into difficult conversations with a mindset to maintain an attitude of respect and kindness toward the other person can help you overcome a lot of obstacles and keep the conversation cool and comfortable for both parties.

So, there it is. America has a hate problem. But we can overcome hate by refusing to make enemies of one another and approaching each other with an attitude of respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. Love truly can overpower hate, but it takes vigilance and a great deal of self control. Keep on reaching out into the world with love and you certainly will change hearts and minds.

Matthew Vasko

Founder & CEO, Century of Compassion