Tackling Fear: The first step in preventing hate and discrimination

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In the words of the great and honorable Yoda, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (The Phantom Menace) One thing Yoda is missing here is the cause of fear, which is often ignorance or a lack of awareness. Naturally, if we do not understand something, we have a tendency to fear it. This is an important instinct we have as animals and it is precisely what has allowed us to continue living on this earth. On the other hand, being human gives us the cognition to learn to prevent the unnecessary and destructive forms of fear – the types of fear that cause us to hate and discriminate and that end up shortening the lives of many here on this same earth.

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As a facilitator for Breakview Training, I am proud to be part of an organization which provides insight and education into the more sensitive areas that can, and do, foster hate, discrimination and disrespect. And each time I train someone to see into the values and perspectives of those who seem different than them, I feel the world growing into a slightly more inclusive place for all of us. Sensitivity and diversity trainings are becoming more and more necessary in a world where abundant sources such as the media and polarized politics constantly offer us reasons to fear groups of people. Indeed, without the supplementary information we and other companies provide about what brings us together, I believe we would be figuratively torn apart at the seams as a human culture. Seams are, after all, meant to hold things together, not provide a line for severage. With Breakview, I intend to continue providing support in the areas where are our seams feel the most tension by spreading knowledge and awareness and thereby preventing fears that lead us into human suffering.

Defending your identity in the wokplace, constructively and productively

I recently worked with a client in a sensitivity training who was tired of the homophobic attitudes being expressed in their workplace. The words being used in their work environment degraded the homosexual and female identity and made this individual feel unhappy and unwelcome among their coworkers.  Unlike many of their fellow employees, this individual was quite sensitive to the more subtle forms of disparagement regularly expressed toward the homosexual community because this individual’s identity was being constantly disrespected – and their attitude in the workplace reflected their frustrations.  

Heterocentrism, Heterosexism, Homophobiainternalized-homophobia

The phenomenon of normalized disparagement toward women and members of the homosexual community is improving at a rate that does not satisfy many individuals who are being affected by it, which is understandable to say the least.  How, then, must individuals address the issue and defend their identities while maintaining a productive attitude?  The trick is to inform without attacking.  After all, many individuals simply do not understand the impact of their language and behavior.  Although the intent may not be to harm, the impact of historically appropriate comments can often be misunderstood by those who are not educated in the fields of gender, sexuality, and discrimination.  Therefore one of the best things a person can do when they witness disparagement toward a community of people is to inform the offender of the possible impact their behavior may have on others.  This way the individual can decide for themselves whether they wish to use this potentially harmful language or behavior in the future.

This type of constructive engagement can of course be used for instances other than disparagement against women and the homosexual community.  For example, if the comment “this is retarded” is used by someone in your workplace, you can inform that person of the impact this phrase can have on individuals who understand this to be an insensitive reference towards persons with an intellectual or learning disability. You could tell this person that the use of this term in this way can bring harm to those who are mentally disabled or to individuals who are close to someone with a mental disability, and that they should consider this in the future when deciding to use such a phrase.

By educating and informing rather than attacking, one may put into practice more productive reactions to offensive language and behavior and therefore work toward improving the troubling situation rather than stirring up more conflict.