Fear and hate does not resolve fear and hate

Published 9:00 am Sunday, December 6, 2015

Live United by Ann Austin

It’s a hard topic to think about this time of year, but all of the violence that is erupting around our nation and across the world is on many minds and hearts. For years we’ve been involved in wars overseas and now the violence seems to have come home.

Ann Austin

Ann Austin

But, in many ways, this isn’t the case. We’ve experienced violence as a nation internally for a long time — and, depending on where you live, it’s constant. Fear for safety is a way of life in communities like Detroit, Chicago’s south side or north Minneapolis.

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What is scary with recent events is the unpredictability of the attacks and how anyone can be targeted. It’s hard to watch communities struggle to respond to a threat they have not been prepared for — and to watch the finger pointing and blaming.

None of us want to live in a world or a community where we are afraid to bring our children to school or go to the grocery store. We all dream of a world where everyone will be safe. One of the reasons my husband and I waited so long to have children is because we didn’t want to bring a life in to such a hostile environment — where there didn’t seem to be hope.

But I keep recognizing a common thread with people I’ve talked to lately: There is so much hope for the future of our country, because we have each other.

One core lesson I have learned in my life is that we can’t control how other people act toward us, but we can choose how we respond. Fear and hate does not resolve fear and hate. This is a lesson we can recognize, especially now.

A wise woman I worked with several years ago would often tell me, “Hurt people, hurt people.” I realize there is so much reaction going on right now — our fight or flight response is on high alert. But there is always another way. Things won’t get better if we choose to hurt each other — I’m not referring only to physical violence; words can hurt at a much deeper level.

To me, the answer always comes back to love. Love is the greatest force in the universe. With all that is going on, I encourage everyone to seek first to understand, but also recognize there are more good people than people who are out to hurt and harm.

When we focus on building up love in our world, we are an example for others, many of whom will choose to follow our lead. Our children are a prime example of actions and words mimicking actions and words. We are leaving this world to them — let’s make sure we make it a better place.


Ann Austin is the executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County.