Friday, August 28, 2009

Using Your Voice to Stop Hate

I often receive emails and posts with the question, "How can I help stop Hate," or "What creates Hatred."

In my opinon, most Hate simply comes from ignorance of the subject. Meaning, that it stems from people who don't try to open their minds to other people's feelings, thoughts, opinions, experiences and beliefs. They don't question differences or research them or wonder why? Instead they look down on different people as inferior. Some people have learned what to think from a young age by parents, older siblings and peers, or have already made up their minds, that, their way is the only way. The solution is quite simple, education.
However, it is very difficult to educate people about diversity if they refuse to at least try and put themselves in someone else's place and empathize. The great thing about the World, is, that we are all very different from each other, and those differences should be taught and celebrated, not belittled and discouraged.
I think the best way for you to help, is just to use your own voice. Stand up for those people who need help. Try to get the people you know, to stop using racial slurs, and hateful language to discourage or bring people down. Sayings like, "You're so gay," or "That's gay," "You're a fag," are all examples of hate speech, they may be used between groups of friends as 'jokes,' but are they jokes to the people who over hear those comments in the halls, on the street?
Those are the kind of things that need to stop. I have been approached several times by people in my life, saying that they never understood what those words did to people, even if they used them as jokes. They didn't understand that those words were created out of hatred to intimidate, stereotype and categorize an entire community of people. Those people have been able to cut such language out and have moved on to telling other people to cut it out of their daily vernacular. That's how it works, if you can get 1 person to stop, then they get 1 person to stop etc...
Help celebrate people's differences, can you imagine how boring this place would be if we were all the same. At the same time we also need to remind people, that gender, race, ethnicity, religion, gay or straight, are just a tiny portion of who people are, "the tip of the Iceberg." There is still 95% of that person you don't even know yet. There is more to a person than your first perception and you can only learn more about them by conversation and genuine interest in the people and the things that surround them.
Using your own voice and mind to stop hate is an enormous and invaluable tool. People shouldn't be afraid to come to school or live their own lives, those people who bully have no right to keep others down, under the U.S. Constitution, we are all created equal, no person is any better than the next. We are all different and our personal experiences with others will help shape who we become.
Like I have said before, the people in your life now at this moment will not always be there in the future. Your life will always be changing, adding and subtracting people, depending on your life's path. So those people who were bullied in school will grow up, those people who did the bullying, will grow up and sometimes their paths cross again. So you should always treat people with Respect, because later in life you may run into them again, and they could be your boss, or have the ability to help you out when you're down, but if you were rude and disrespectful to them in High School when you were 17, then it could come back to haunt you 10-20 years down the road.
Teach your children to be kind and to respect people early in life and they will be much more prepared for the world outside of your home and it will create a character later in life that people will want to meet and interact with and hire for that big job. If and when you have children, be conscious of the things you say, they are little sponges, and even if you don't mean what you say, the child could repeat it without even knowing what it means. What if it is your child who is on the receiving end of such learned language by peers who heard that 'stuff' from their parents, how would you react to that?

9 comments:

Ali said...

Excellent reading and very true. Thank you.

Reggie Meneses said...

Logan,

I heard your mom, Judy, speak very eloquently today during her visit to South Lakes High School today in Reston, Virginia. During the Q&A portion of her talk, one of the students asked her about how you were doing. Despite a very brief break in her composure, she spoke very proudly of how you are working with the Matthew Shepard foundation and its allies. Her personal stories are very moving, and I hope for greater conversations and change regarding more education and legislation that will lead to tolerance for all people. Thank you for all you do.

--Reggie Meneses
Reston, Virginia

Alfred said...

Dear Logan:
Yes, I know it's the eleventh anniversary when you saw Matt alive for the last time. It was also the last time 11 October fell on a Sunday.
I saw your mother on "Ellen", and I've already read "The Meaning of Matthew". I noticed on "Ellen" that they showed a picture of the entire family (I think at the Grand Canyon, and I'd guess August 1998), which is the first time I saw your picture on national television. (American Justice almost revealed your picture in the same photograph in 2001.) There were other pictures I've never seen in a decade.

I'm probably the only one on this earth who admires both your brother and Terry Fox, but your family shares the same determination to better others out of a tragedy. The Foxes has an easier time (no controversy), but no matter. I've been boosting both Matt and Terry on my site since 2001. I'm working on a political cartoon when Matt's bill becomes law.

Henri said...

Logan , Bonjour !
En ce 12 octobre, je ne peux que penser à Matthew et à vous.Je suis à la fois triste et joyeux de cet anniversaire car je suis un peu avec vous là-bas au Wyoming. Je regrete de ne pas parler anglais et de n'avoir pas plus de nouvelles de vous. Mais avec le coeur... ne parle-t-on pas la langue universelle? Matthew tu me manques beaucoup trop! Ma fille et moi vous embrassons trés fort vous tous !
Henri et Blandine (France)

Digo said...

Hi Logan,

This is Rodrigo, brazilian, living is Washington DC since February. I just bought your mom's book two days ago but I just have 20 pages left...
I just wanna thank you and your family for everything you guys have been doing for the LGBT community.

Today I took some time to read your posts. I hope you feel a bit better every December 1st. I know it's hard, but Judy says Matt would be thrilled to know that what happened to him helped so many people. I am sure he would feel the same knowing that this next Dec 1st wouldn't be that hard anymore.

All the best for the Shepard family.
Rodrigo

Anonymous said...

I loved your mom book and found it to be very down to earth and honest unlike many writers that try to inject things that are not true. I am impressed with your family and their hard work on bring about the hate crims bill to this nation.I myself being a gay man was placed in a nut house by my father at the age of 12 beacuse I was gay. I ran away and met a wonderful man that i spend the next 37 years of my life with until his death six years ago. So God works in strange ways. Please keep up the great work. Stephen Rzewuski

Alfred said...

My translation of Henri, mais oui!:
Good Day, Logan!
On 12 October, I cannot but think of Matt and you (I'd assume the entire family). I am at the same time sad and happy at this anniversary, because I am a little with you down there in Wyoming. I am sorry that I cannot speak English and do not have any more news from you. But with the heart, doesn't everyone speak a universal language? I miss Matthew much too much. My daughter and I kiss you all very much.

Henri and Blandine (France)

I dedicate this translation to Matt!

donald said...

I often ask myself as a man that is gay not a gay man,How many people does it take to make a difference.
I have seen many of Judys speeches
and talks it does keep me reminded
that Mathew lives on in her and a lot
of us.As here in Toledo Ohio we had an Incident in a local bar where someone was killed in a disagreement over someones sexuality,a lot of my friends that work there have since learned of the Shepard foundation and have asked me so many Questions about Judy and you Logan and are just thrilled that there are people in this world that do care about everyone being treated equal and as for being alternative myself we consider you and Judy and family a personal part of our own and even the youngest generation learning,growing and finding out You are accepted and its ok to be gay it brings me and so many others I talk to a sense of equality just to know everyone is equal and we as alternative people like Matthew who is in so many hearts today and will not forget him or the love he offered to everyone he met,he will never be apart of our past he is our future

donald said...

I often ask myself as a man that is gay not a gay man,How many people does it take to make a difference.
I have seen many of Judys speeches
and talks it does keep me reminded
that Mathew lives on in her and a lot
of us.As here in Toledo Ohio we had an Incident in a local bar where someone was killed in a disagreement over someones sexuality,a lot of my friends that work there have since learned of the Shepard foundation and have asked me so many Questions about Judy and you Logan and are just thrilled that there are people in this world that do care about everyone being treated equal and as for being alternative myself we consider you and Judy and family a personal part of our own and even the youngest generation learning,growing and finding out You are accepted and its ok to be gay it brings me and so many others I talk to a sense of equality just to know everyone is equal and we as alternative people like Matthew who is in so many hearts today and will not forget him or the love he offered to everyone he met,he will never be apart of our past he is our future