One Billion Acts of Peace Issues

Racism and hatred based on differences as well as the growing divide between rich and poor are endemic, and it is a problem that affects all of us. We must work together to build acceptance and support within our human family.
The problem of racism and hatred is one that affects people in every country. In too many places, people are taught to hate based on religion, caste, color, disability, sexual orientation or ethnic origin. Hatred of any kind is damaging to everyone in society, even to people who are not the direct targets of bigotry and prejudice. Erasing fear and hatred of other people, ending the divisions in society and bringing people together should be one of the core goals of those who desire a better world.

Racism and hatred are often used as weapons in struggles over land, resources or political power. Political leaders use religion, race or culture as an excuse to direct violence at other groups and as a justification for war. Ethnic cleansing, in which people are driven out of their homes, neighborhoods and cities because they are of a different group, is a terrible example of this. In Guatemala, Mayan Indians were made the special targets of the military who burned their villages and sought to drive them off their land. From the Balkans to the Sudan to Iraq, and in dozens of other places we have seen how leaders have used hatred to ignite violence.

Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum on the problem of Racism and Hate
“I wish that a conscious sense of peace and a feeling of human solidarity would develop in all peoples, which would open new relationships of respect and equality for the next millennium, to be ruled by fraternity and not by cruel conflicts.”
The destructive ideas of hatred and racism are also used to enforce economic oppression or exploitation, keeping entire groups of people trapped in terrible poverty. In societies with rigid castes, such as India, prejudice against those born into “lower” castes dooms them to poverty and discrimination. In the United States, racism against African-Americans and other people of color creates an economic as well as a social divide.

Hatred can also be the source of violence when those who have been oppressed seek justice against their oppressors. Those who have suffered from discrimination can turn to violence as a way of settling scores. The poor can feel hatred for the rich. These feelings are also destructive to society. In South Africa, with the end of apartheid, after decades of violence by the white minority, there were some who called for vengeance against the former oppressors. Instead, the new government asked Archbishop Desmond Tutu to lead a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. the commission’s job was to get out the truth of what had happened, and at the same time promote forgiveness and understanding among people on all sides.

Racism and hatred is a cancer that eats away at society and damages everyone. It creates violence, war and economic suffering. It is important to unite with those who are different, and with those who are suffering all over the world. Eliminating racism and hate is a one of the core issues facing the world today.

Learn More

You can learn more about the issue of ending racism and hate from these sources:

Human Rights Watch
Southern Poverty Law Center
United Nations World Conference Against Racism