We live in times when, there’s no doubt, some see gain in dividing the world, inciting bigotry and narrow-mindedness and intolerance, especially on religious grounds. Whether it’s the acts of terrorists in Paris, Beirut, Male elsewhere or show boating and cynical sound bites from candidates for the American presidential elections we should have no doubt these are all acts designed to manipulate the wider population to take up narrow inward looking stances, through fearing the ‘other’.
At times like this I’m reminded that when we look around the world not everyone engaged in the process of educating children want the process to open their minds or to develop in them the propensity to think deeply about issues, to challenge dogma and to hold their own thought-out perspectives. They may also not desire harmony, understanding and appreciation for diversity. Sometimes the ‘other who can’t be trusted’ (or even who must be hated) is a great tool with which to motivate and align a population.
Even just today, we see more islamophobia spewed by certain political candidates in the US. We see stories like this one from within education, as educators endeavour to help children to understand the events in Paris and elsewhere:
Then, we have the Indian media and social networking spewing hatred, venom and bigotry at an actor because he even dared to ask the question openly as to whether his country had become less tolerant (he of course, happens to be a tolerated representative from the ‘hated other’).
Finally (well, I say finally – the day’s not over yet!), we have a fighter plane of Russia shor down for violating Turkey’s airspace – something which many experts and commentators have been suggesting was almost inevitable ever since Russia chose to intervene in the complex issues related to Syria. The immediate reaction – more self-justified outrage and hatred spewed for political and quasi-religious ends.
Must children learn to hate? Can we, as educators do more to ensure that schools remain places of diversity, inclusion, empathy and understanding. In the face of a tide, it doesn’t feel easy, but i believe the gains for the world are worth all of our effort.