It’s pretty easy these days for one intolerant person to grab a “media megaphone” and stir up a storm of anger and hatred. A third rate movie insults one of the world’s great religions, and innocent people die halfway around the world. Sensational advertisements spread a message of intolerance across America, implying that people are savages just because they have a different faith. And these are just a few recent examples.
We can’t silence these voices by force – the right to free speech is too important. And we can’t shout them down – that just leads to more violence. But most important of all…we can’t stay silent and do nothing, and let those voices gradually divide us from one another.
So what CAN we do? We can start learning about people just like us who have taken positive and effective action to respond to hate speech, intolerance and bigotry. We can learn from stories where, in communities around the world, hope has actually won over intolerance.
Here’s just one small such story. Years ago, an aggressive bigot hijacked a community meeting about civil rights in America, refusing to release the microphone. What to do, as he ranted on and on? After a minute or so, someone in the audience began quietly humming “We Shall Overcome” — and within 30 seconds, the whole room was filled with this gentle, forceful sound. No one pulled him from the stage by force, or tried to shout him down — but he soon realized that no one was with him, and he left the podium. What a great story! And how wonderful and powerful for the audience to discover that hope can find a way to win!
Stories like that can inspire us to respond with new hope, and new action. And there are lots of other such stories and inspiring action ideas out there…if we can find them.
So here’s where you come in! Do you know, or have you heard about a story like that you can share in a paragraph or two? Or in a video? We invite you to add your story as a comment below, or post them to our Facebook page.
Let’s find those stories and ideas and post them here so we can all learn from them, draw inspiration from them, share them with others, and build on their success.
Spread the word! Ask your friends (and their friends) to help! Facebook! Twitter! E-mail! Go big time viral! Hope CAN win… and you can help make it happen.
This is the archive for the Bay Area Interfaith Connect, the former newsletter for the Interfaith Center at the Presidio .