Fighting hate with faith and reason

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Students engage in conversation on the Cap Bar Patio. Photo by Samuel Curran.

Recent events have demonstrated that the type of hatred that inspires mass shootings can grow anywhere, even in communities like ours.

On Friday March 15, in Christchurch, New Zealand, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant turned on his Facebook live video, loaded his assault rifle and opened fire.

Tarrant attacked two different mosques and killed a total of 49 people, leaving 40 more wounded.

Having been only six months since the mass shooting at a synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, it seems like there is a never-ending cycle of violence against religious groups.

This unceasing savagery is a call to action, not only for large political figures, but for people and institutions around the world. It seems as if we as a society have grown numb to incidents of mass brutality.

We see it in the news, we see it on social media, we talk about it with friends and a few weeks later it dies down and fades in with the plethora of other violent tragedies from recent years.

Attacks such as the ones in Christchurch or Pittsburgh occur because of hate and discrimination against different groups of people.

Tarrant’s motivations are found in a 74-page manifesto in which he expresses his concern regarding a so-called “white genocide” and enumerates his alt-right and white supremacist views.

The shooter at the Pittsburgh synagogue was driven by a similar kind of hatred, which took the form of anti-Semitism.

These mass murders of religious groups all have a common cause in the hatred, intolerance and resentment that fuels them.

So, what can our UD community do about it?

Most of the actions taken in the wake of killings such as these are left up to politicians. However, we can start right here in our community by creating a place where kindness and acceptance is held at a high value and where notions of discrimination and hate are eradicated.

As members of the UD community, we have a unique opportunity to respond to these hateful killings by choosing to foster a kind, loving and accepting community grounded in our Catholic faith.

I know what I’m saying is hard to achieve, but by educating people on different religious groups and cultures, we can break down negative stigmas found in society.

We can achieve this is by not treating religious, cultural or other types of discrimination as taboo. It can be awkward to talk about these things, but these conversations are necessary.

Engaging in religious and cultural discourse from different points of view helps to cultivate a community in which we are able to consider their humanity for ourselves.

Paying attention to diverse speakers on issues of discrimination helps to breakdown some of the stigmas that come with these dialogues.

It’s difficult to prevent types of discrimination on campus because there isn’t one thing that we can do to completely eradicate it.

However, one very obvious way to combat discrimination is to call people out on it. If one of your friends says something harmful or you see or hear something discriminatory, speak up.

Don’t be afraid. Simply tell them it’s not ok to say things like that, and encourage them to stop.

UD has a role as a Catholic university to foster and create a community where the stigmas surrounding the rest of society aren’t found.

Our university is excellent at fostering kindness and emphasizing that hatred and discriminatory attitudes are not encouraged. We should continue to strive toward a community that is all-accepting and all-welcoming.

By doing so, we can create a model for others to follow.

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