"I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him" - Booker T Washington.
Hate makes me so angry but it doesn't drive me to hate. Hate corrupts those that hate, it consumes and distorts the hater, very much like envy and paranoia.
Very rarely does the object of one's hate suffer the same internal turmoil, indeed sometimes they will be blissfully unaware of the animus. I have two thoughts about hate; that it is quite pointless, the practice of the mentally weak or lazy, but I have always respected and understood its danger.
As such we can not be superior observers of hate. We have to be its most trenchant enemy. We can't be passive against hate or in the end it will consume what we know and love. Because we know others are not as strong, we have to be strong, proactively and visibly so. We have to fight hate with ever fiber of our being as it destroys and diminishes all of us.
The fact that the tragic killings outside the Jewish School in the South of France come with the same MO as the killings of three soldiers of black or north Africa origin should have us all worried. Hate crimes are crimes against us all, as we could all be the victim. Hate is blind and we don't have the luxury of thinking that it doesn't affect us.
Wether it is in Rochdale or Toulouse you can be on the end of a hate crime, white or black, Asian or Jewish.
I was brought up by remarkable parents who taught me that it was wrong to hate. Why were we any better than the others? What gave us the right to think we were superior? In the end, although my parents weren't religious it boiled down to one simple belief - do as you would be done by. This one belief can unite people of all faiths and none.
But more than this, I was taught that it was my responsibility to be a warrior against hate. That I couldn't and shouldn't walk on by. For one simple reason; who would stand up for me when I was under attack?
As a child this poem was the most simple but effective message my parents ever used.
The origins of this poem first have been traced to a speech given by Niemöller on 6 January, 1946, to the representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt.
"When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out."
How may of you pull you children up when they say that hate someone of something? How may of you use the word without thinking? All this seems small and some of you will be shouting at the page because you think the comparisons diminish the scale of the events the poem talks about or indeed yesterday.
However, hate starts small and children learn what they live. How many of you challenge it at your sons football match when other parents indulge in racist banter? We as parents have a huge opportunity and responsibility to educate future generations not to hate.
I speak in so many forums up and down Britain and people of all races, creeds, colours are full of fear. Fear driven because they think others mean them harm, driven by perception of what they think the other thinks. Perception is king.
Yes, some individuals are a threat, but they are just that, individuals, they are still the exception. However, this fear can be fed, sometimes unwittingly, by our own isolationism and in an attempt to protect ourselves or our community we become less open, less welcoming, more insular. More willing to believe the worst in the other.
Trust in our fellow man is key to our survival, showing that we want to be friends, that we mean no harm. From the most simple act of smiling at a random stranger, to saying hello. Try it and you will be not only surprised at the reaction but also how good it makes you feel. These acts all seem small in comparison to hate and the acts of yesterday. But hate starts some were. If each of us takes the step of trusting and reaching out, hate and fear have less chance of growing.
Always remember that others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself - Richard M Nixon.