March 30th, 2016
I don’t know how many people were in the march. I do know that the crowd stretched back for a several blocks. I noticed that we had a diverse group. Most of the marchers were Latinos, but there were also blacks, whites, and Asians. The protesters chanted slogans in both English and Spanish. There were people of all ages: young folks, older men and women, families with little kids. There were people from all over the Milwaukee County, and perhaps beyond.
It is remarkable to me that such a large number of people, many of whom were strangers to each other, would gather and then march together. It reminded me of what Pope Francis said and did last week during his Mass on Holy Thursday. The Pope washed the feet of twelve people, some of whom were not Catholic, or even Christian. Then he remarked to them that “we are all brothers”. It occurred to me during the demonstration that the Pope’s words were true. We are all brothers and sisters. Despite our differences in culture, language, and beliefs, we all have the same biology and we share the same destiny.
Those who practice the politics of hate always picks out the things that divide us from one another. They always try to ways to separate humanity into “us and them”. They look for the aspects of “them” that scare us and ratchet up our anxiety. It is human nature to fear what we don’t understand, and then to hate what we fear. Ignorance and fear are forces that give power to the politics of hate.
How do we stop the politics of hate? We can start by focusing on the things that we all share in common. We all want peace and safety. We all want our children to have a better future. We all wrestle with our fears and doubts. We are all mortal. We all want to be loved.
In a way, it is easy to recognize the common humanity of the people we like. It wasn’t hard for me to connect with the other people at the demonstration. The challenge is to be able to see the members of the opposition as our brothers and sisters. Does it do any good to compare Trump with Hitler? Does it do any good to mock Trump’s supporters? If I really want to stop the politics of hate, I need to realize that those people with whom I strongly disagree are also part of my greater family. I have to show them respect, even if they do not reciprocate. That is the only way to stop the politics of hate.