How do you solve a problem like bigotry?

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We need to change how we react to things and craft rational responses even when the situation is far from ideal and downright irrational, says Syerleena Abdul Rashid.

Treat others as you want to be treated.

Empathy and compassion have always been the two greatest values highly endorsed by prophets who spread the messages of peace, love and respect.

We may sometimes find ourselves saying things we often don’t mean and give very little thought to how our words can affect another human being.

The complexity of human emotions can make certain situations challenging and relationships with fellow human beings strenuous, at times. We never know what others are going through at the moment, and sometimes we may end up saying things we regret because we’re too caught up living our own selfish lives.

In today’s modern world, freedom of expression and freedom of speech are often regarded as rights every citizen living under a democratic government should have.

However, just as how unfavourable having restrictions of both aforementioned rights can be, having no limits to such freedom can also have an adverse affect – one that absolutely contradicts the principles that hold democracy together.

Human beings, since the dawn of civilisation, are certainly prone to hurting others with our words and expression, be it intentional or unintentional. Living a life where one treads carefully as if walking on eggshells is simply unrealistic, but we are able to make well informed choices, and we can choose to be cautious in our verbal expressions.

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Can you imagine if all of the bigots and internet trolls chose to stop hating others; how different would things look like? What if compassion replaced brutality? What if respect replaced insolence? What if sincerity replaced fraudulence?

Certainly replacing negativity with positive traits that foster healthier relationships can only be advantageous and constructive for a society that is in need of a silver lining, such as ours, at the moment.

The pain caused from all of the deception and treacherous messages can sometime linger longer than expected and sometimes the pain just never goes away. Instead it creates a hidden scar – a grudge, which one may carry around one’s entire life.

The association and the memory of painful words can result in a lifetime of anxiety, stress and fear – which, in time, can manifest into seething hatred and resentment.

As we delve further into the 21st century, we now have tools to ensure that our words can make a greater impact and can reach out to an even wider audience than ever before.

We can spread messages, ideas and critique across continental borders with a single click of a button. The power of communication has reached sophisticated heights, and with that, comes the need to decipher messages in order for us to avoid conflict and unrest.

Blaise Pascal once said, “Kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips. They make other people good-natured. They also produce their own image on men’s souls, and a beautiful image it is.”

Why not counter hate-filled messages by spreading those that endorse peace, love and respect. We can use words to show support. Human beings have the power to use words and to express thoughts that can make those around us feel good.

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Our main problem isn’t why society allows these bigots to continue expressing their hurtful slander and repulsive language. But our problem is that we often do not utilise our ability to show emotional solidarity with others around us because we get too caught up in the melodrama of hate and bigotry.

We need to change how we react to things and craft rational responses even when the situation is far from ideal and downright irrational.

Source: The Malaysian Insider

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