Teaching hateBy Jayson Arvene T. Mondragon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
If hate is part of the curriculum of every school in the world, everyone will be astonished to find so many excelling in it. Or maybe not.
I was cooking dinner one day when my sister showed me some comments and posts on Instagram by two teenage girls bashing Asians, calling them ugly and saying they deserve to be raped by their parents, or far worse. I was not so much offended as disillusioned and disappointed. I couldn’t help but ask myself if I was like that when I was the girls’ age.
They are not more than 15 years old, yet they are already showing so much hatred toward people they don’t even know, calling Asians names and making a specific person the object of their mockery. Where is all this hatred coming from?
I had the same question during a conversation with a customer when I was working as a customer service representative.
The customer did not want to give me information about herself because, she said, I am not from the United States and I might send a bomb to her house. I tried to persuade her by telling her that I just needed the information to help her. But she didn’t budge, and even started saying that the Philippines is a country of terrorists. She also insisted that the Philippines is in the Middle East, between Iran and Pakistan.
I understand that these two situations do not make up the totality of the world view. These types of situation may be one in a million, but the idea of hatred is not all that unfamiliar. If you examine the matter closely, you will find that we have been breathing in the idea of hatred ever since we learned how to think.
When I was younger, I was never told not to mingle with so-called “bad” friends. No one really told me to choose who I befriend. I guess I am one of the lucky few.
It was in school that I was told to stay away from the delinquents and those who came from the so-called “bad” family or neighborhood. It was always “Don’t go with them, they will just ruin your studies” or “Stay away from them because they are good for nothing.”
My teachers always told me to stay away from “them” because they were a bad influence. One teacher even went ahead and told me that if I hung out with the “bad” ones, I would learn how to do drugs and steal, and achieve the makings of the next most-wanted person in the world .
Who in their right mind would tell that to a child? I guess everyone.
How many times have I heard some parents tell their children to stay away from this kid because his father is a drunkard, or that kid because his mother is someone’s mistress, or that other kid who’s not doing well in school? In no time, these kids would start to parrot everything their parents told them.
“Avoid.” “Detest.” “Ostracize.” If these were subjects in school, everyone would surely pass with flying colors.
Like most children, I went through the phase of being bullied and doing the bullying as well. I’ve called my peers names, labeled them, mocked them, and received the same treatment more than once.
It was the norm, it was acceptable, and it was what the older ones were doing, so we presumed that it was the right thing to do. We mimicked what we saw and made it our reality, our values, our beliefs.
Now that I am older, I just have one question to ask: Why is it so easy for us to teach our children how to hate, and so difficult for us to teach them about acceptance, or love?
People would always say that one has to separate the good eggs from the rotten ones when they talk about kids, forgetting that these are kids and, unlike eggs, each one has the capacity to change and be something more than just the son or daughter of their parents, or more than just a kid from their community no matter how good or bad it is.
One most commonly cited adage is the one that says a child cannot be anything other or more than what his/her parents are (“Kung ano ang puno ay siya ring bunga”). So if your father is a gambler or your mother is a drunkard, then your fate is sealed: You will grow up to be either of the two or, worse, both.
And the so-called “good” kids will be told to avoid you and shun you because you deserve it for being born to such a “bad” family or for coming from a really “bad” neighborhood.
All this is just plain hypocritical, but that’s how we seem to see things, and that’s what we tell our children. So who will blame them for having that mentality?
Not once did I hear parents tell their children to befriend the so-called “bad” kids in the hope that their own kids will set a good example, and not in the thought that they will be influenced to be bad.
I never heard parents tell their kids to befriend those who were not performing well in class so that they could be of help. Instead, the kids were told to stay away from the laggards because their own studies would supposedly be affected.
So how does one learn how to hate? How does one learn to be prejudiced? How does one learn to put a barrier between oneself and the others who are not of one’s “kind”?
Hatred has become a viral disease, and with the aid of the Internet and all these social networking sites, it has become so easily spread, is in fact uncontrollable, and more lethal. You don’t get hated and singled out by just your classmates in the classroom nowadays; you get the same treatment while the whole world watches.
Were we taught how to hate? Will we teach our children the same thing? If we were and we will, then who are we to preach about unity, equality? Who are we to talk about love?
Or is this hatred something innate, something that we were born with? I hope not. Because if it is, then all this talk about love and peace and especially equality is nothing but pure hypocrisy and lies.
Jayson Arvene T. Mondragon, 26, is an unemployed journalism undergraduate.
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