The late great Martin Luther King once said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
This is something I always bring myself back to; anger is an easy default reaction to much of the injustices in this world. As hard as it is to imagine fascists as human as their beliefs are so alien to us; we have to at least try to extend our empathy, understand the person behind the anger and challenge their hatred.
I’m sure I’m not the only person here who has been disappointed to see a facebook friend post a Britain’s First post. My knee jerk reaction to delete that ‘friend’ in a justified, ‘I don’t want people like that in my life’ dismissal. But that was an opportunity lost, an opportunity to re-educate and work against the wave of fascism in our society.
I was disappointed with myself; as a youth worker I challenge racism almost every day. But in that role I automatically have unconditional regard for the young people I work with. I don’t write them off, I understand that they often haven’t heard an alternative to prejudice and hate. Haven’t had any positive role models. Are often victims of the same vile tabloids and media and feel the need to deflect the blame. They are hurting, living in poverty and wrong in believing that other groups are being fast tracked to housing, work etc. It is easier and much less scary to believe than the complex societal issues and oppression of the ruling class.
It doesn’t matter whether it is in my paid role, within my activism or on the campaign trail, I see that racism can be challenged and people can open their minds to an alternative vision, we can bring about this change. There are so many answers we can provide to explain why people are suffering, stereotypes and mistruths to dispel.
I’m not suggesting that we can sit down and have a friendly chat with these fascist thugs on Saturday. They’ll be revved with mob mentality and I’ll hazard an unqualified guess that many require intense psychotherapy to deal with their anger issues. I’m just asking you to step back sometimes and understand everyone has a story, we don’t know their story and if we can influence the next chapter. Even if we just can change one person out of twenty, we can never know of its ripple affect.
Just to add, for everyone to take something back with them. We need to go back to our local authorities and ask, what are they doing to address prejudice in their communities? What are they doing to bring different cultures together to promote understanding? This should be happening not just throughout our schools; but also reactive services such as youth and community development. This is something we have allowed to generate, I don’t believe enough is being done and our young people are far more likely to be radicalised into far right extremism that religious fanaticism.