By Marie Ardito
Co-founder, MA Retirees United (www.retireesunited.org)
Attack, Attack, Attack.
Attack the other guy.
Attack different groups. Attack different philosophies.
Attack anything and anyone and you will probably get away with.
Politics is not the only arena in which this takes place, but it seems to be the one that specializes in it. No one party has a monopoly on attacking and there seems to be enough blame to go around. In all too many instances, today’s attacks are nothing but destructive lies based on people's fears, prejudices, and ignorance
I remember a fifth grade class I taught in which the topic of international customs arose. An Indian student was asked by other students about some of the customs that she observed and she very maturely explained what they meant. I watched the expression on the youngster's faces change as they came to understand some of the things they had originally thought were strange and different. I asked the student about the red dot I had seen on foreheads of women from India. She told me it meant that the women were married. I remember telling the kids I never stare at the left hand of a woman that has a wedding band or wondering about it, but I did at the red dot because of being ignorant of what it meant. That was my day to learn more than I taught!
Recently, my granddaughter, who is a sophomore in high school, asked to interview me for a paper she had to do. During the long interview, I realized that one of the lasting lessons of my lifetime concerned the destructiveness of prejudice. Living in a small town in which my family was in the cultural, religious and political minority, I remember all too well the way in which we were exposed to prejudice. The tragedy is that, all too often, instead of seeing prejudice for what it is and eradicating it in our lives, we pass it on to the next group that is the target of it.
When I consider bgotry and bigoted people, the words that are written at the entrance to the Holocaust Memorial in Boston often come to mind:
When the Nazis came for the communists, I did not speak out, as I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats, I did not speak out. I was not a social democrat
When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out as I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews, I did not speak out as I was not a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.
As we prepare for the Holiday Season and many of us recall the birth of Jesus Christ, let one of the lessons of the season be what happened to Christ and to so many others because of ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry. Even today, too many lives are cut short for the same reasons. We prevent too many in our country from being all they can be and doing all they can do. We cannot have a lasting peace in the world until we learn the lessons of tolerance, love, and understanding. Marvin J Ashton once said, "If we could look into each other's hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance and care."
May your Holiday Season be happy and your New Year filled with peace and understanding.