How to dissolve hate into love

How to dissolve hate into love

In the book “The War for Kindness” Jamil Zaki, Ph.D. shares the story of Toni McAleer, a former neo-Nazi organizer and skin-head in Vancouver, BC. The music culture, which fostered bigotry, drew him in. McAleer felt accepted in this culture, and thus embraced it and eventually became a leader recruiting others. He even built communities online and set up racist hotlines. They were designed to promote racism. In the process of organizing far-right Aryan existence activities, he lost compassion for people outside his own racial group.

The War For Kindness by Jami Zaki

Stepping away from hatred

Then he had kids of his own.

McAleer’s children began to awaken his empathy and compassion. He decided that he wanted to be a far better father than his own had been. He also realized that his activities in the far-right group hurt his ability to be employed as a financial analyst, so he started distancing himself from them publicly.

McAleer met Dov Baron a financial analyst in his field, and began training with him. They connected over their background as being English and love of Monty Python. Baron prodded McAleer about his past and then confessed to being a Jew. He had promoted anti-semitism, and he still fostered those ideas.

Baron recognized his lingering hatred but told him that while that was what he did, that wasn’t who he is. He said, “I see you”. And with the recognition of his humanity, and his capacity to be far better than his history, McAleer broke down and cried.

After more training with Baron, McAleer renounced all ties to these hate groups. He started making amends, reconnecting with others that had left. After attending a Summit Against Violent Extremism in Dublin, he and former members of a variety of extremist groups joined together to develop the organization Life After Hate. Life After Hate supports people in leaving such organizations and works to prevent youth from joining them.

What leads people to hatred?

Life After Hate - Practice Peace

Many people who join extremist groups do so as a reaction to unprocessed trauma.

Or like Toni, it can be caused by being drawn into an unhealthy culture. And while it may produce short term benefits of a tribal community and feeling power over others, the culture of hate hardens their hearts and inhibits their ability to have meaningful relationships. Violent tendencies can escalate in an environment that fosters bigotry and hatred, and result in suffering to others.

The path to leaving hatred behind

But the path to leaving hatred behind isn’t by countering it with more violence or even war. It’s through the healing power of empathy and connecting with their humanity. By acknowledging the pain that drove them to their path, and letting them know that their actions don’t define them. Then we can begin to empower them to be the best versions of themselves.

America has been an increasingly divisive place. Tensions between the left and the right are now at an all-time high. We are strongly influenced by our culture. If hatred is predominant, it can give us subconscious permission to express it. Similarly, if we are surrounded by kindness and empathy, we will stick out like a sore thumb if we choose to be cruel. That alone could be enough to make us more hesitant to post something unkind.

Unfortunately, thanks to the way news is propagated, cruelty is getting too much publicity right now. If we want to live in a healthier culture, we have to model, demonstrate and promote compassion and kindness. We have to make it cool!

How can we make kindness cool?

Jamil Zaki, Ph.D.

First, put the book “The War for Kindness” on the top of your reading list. It will fill you with hope and possibility for a kinder and gentler future!

Second, empathy can grow with practice. Join Dr. Zaki’s kindness challenge to put it into practice, both at home and online.

Third, check out Life After Hate, and consider supporting their cause to end the spread of hatred.

If you would like my support with any of the above, please schedule a complimentary consultation here.



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