Fighting Against the Culture of Contempt
Whether it is in the political, religious or social arena, there appears to be growing evidence that we are currently living in a culture where
contempt for those with whom we disagree with is not expressed by mere eye-rolling or tongue smacking, but by vicious verbal attacks and
even more threatening, physical assault leading to serious bodily harm and in some cases, even death. The era of civility and decency has
rapidly given way to this new culture of contempt that has permeated our society.

Human rights activist Opal Tometi was once quoted as saying, “Civility is the recognition that all people have dignity that’s inherent in their
person, no matter their religion, race, gender, sexuality, or ability.”

And the Reverend T.D Jakes said, “I think it’s important that we rebuild an atmosphere of civility in every aspect of our lives.” Intolerance
and incivility are the driving forces behind this dangerous trend. Bitter divisions will surely continue to rip the nation apart if we cannot figure
out a way to set aside our political, social, and religious differences and work together to create a safer and more tolerant world.

Unquestionably, the division in the politics of our nation has dramatically sharpened over the years and there is little evidence that will change
for the better unless there is some serious intervention on our part. The old notion of “reaching across the aisle” has given way to gridlock
and partisan politics by placing party over country. And the latter will certainly be very detrimental to the future of the country if the trend
continues, and at least, for now, there seems to be very little evidence that will happen as the division clearly appears to be growing wider and
deeper.

What is even more disconcerting is when the leader of the free world relentlessly casts aspersions on an entire group of people by referring to
them as drug dealers and rapists, a dead war hero as a “stone cold loser” as well as deriding countless others. There used to be some
serious consequences for politicians and others who publicly expressed such blatantly vile and racist sentiments toward others. Or when we
hear hate groups chanting “Jews will not replace us!” as we heard from the Tiki torch marchers in Charlottesville. Such language leads to
violence as words turn into actions as we have witnessed on numerous occasions here in U.S. and most recently in New Zealand at
Christchurch.

Recent data reveals that hate crimes in the U.S. are on the rise in the U.S. Begging the question, what is the driving force(s) behind these
hateful attacks? Last year, we saw a significant spike in bloodshed because of politically motivated violence. Recent articles have pointed to
the most significant driving factors behind these violent attacks on innocent citizens, both here and abroad. It’s imperative to remember that
words matter. The emotional tone of political speeches can and sometimes do lead to violence. Anger, contempt, and disgust can lead some
to feel aggrieved and ultimately seek to exact revenge on those they see as the reason for their anger, contempt, and disgust.

A case in point that is worth noting here is that in counties that hosted Trump rallies saw a 226 percent rise in hate crimes in 2016 according
to a new study conducted by the Washington Post. The concern is that as we gear up for what is sure to be a very hotly contested and
volatile 2020 campaign season there is mounting evidence that hate crimes, both domestic and foreign are only going to increase. And while
no one can solely blame one person for the violent attacks we have witnessed, hateful and derisive rhetoric will only make matters worse as
fringe groups such as white nationalists and other far-right extremists feed from the dog-whistling trough.

Recently, I have just started reading excerpts from a book written by Arthur C. Brooks titled, “Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can
Save America from the Culture of Contempt.” In it, he offers three very insightful and practical suggestions on how to push back against the
culture of contempt permeating our society. One, practice what he calls the five to one rule. Offer five positive and encouraging comments to
every negative comment, especially on social media. Two,
stand up for people who aren’t in the room. Brooks says that
when friends who agree with you start mocking those who
disagree with you, stand up for them in a decent and
respectful way. And three, ask yourself who in your life you
have treated with contempt and make amends. Contempt
creates a vicious cycle, but by acknowledging how you have
hurt others with mockery or dismissiveness, you’ll be able to
repair relationships.

Last year, the FBI reported that hate crimes were on the rise
in the U.S. for the third consecutive year. And the trend will
continue if we don’t do something about it. Dr. Martin Luther
King once said that we must learn to disagree without being
violently disagreeable. It is high time once again for us to
rekindle this profound message if we are to save our nation
and the world from political, social, and religious crimes of
hate. Let us unite in our fight against all forms of hatred and
bigotry as well as the culture of contempt it creates and
remember that we are the change the world needs and is
waiting for.