In Ireland, a beautiful country with lovely cows, sheep, people, green grass and pubs, or so I’m told, there is a war going on between the Catholics and Protestants, right? I’ve read stories where a person from each religion fell in love (because our hearts don’t know anything about religion but they do know a lot about chemistry). The couple was caught, their heads shaved and they were tarred and feathered. See, hate is okay, love is not. Years ago, I also heard about, a program that brought kids from Ireland to the US, so that they could live with a family where one parent was Catholic and the other parent was Protestant. They lived with them for a couple of months because some people wanted to teach the children that people were okay, no matter what religion they followed, and that no one had to die because of what they believed. I believe the program was a success and that the children were amazed to see that things could be so different. The kids were changed by their experiences.
We look at that internal war and wonder how people can kill each other over something that. But the thing is…they look at us and wonder how we can believe and do the things we believe and do. It’s like this, if people aren’t taught to hate Catholics or Protestants…they won’t hate them. Hate is taught. We don’t go to war over religion, in the US because no one taught us that we should, it’s that simple. The people in Ireland, who are fighting the war, were taught different things. If you had been born in Belfast, a person’s religion may matter to you and you may be wearing a uniform and carrying an automatic weapon, ready to kill because someone doesn’t think/believe the same thing you do. Wars are usually fought for two reasons, either someone has something someone else wants, or someone believes something that someone else doesn’t like/believe.
If you had been born in a different country you would believe what people in that country believe. This shows us that the things we currently believe are relative to where we were born and what we were taught. We don’t believe things because they are true, we believe things because we are told that they are true by people in a place where those things are believed to be true.
We aren’t born BELIEVING anything. We are all born free of prejudice, violence and hatred. We are open books and the people, institutions and society we grow up in, fill in the blank pages. Wherever a baby is born, America, England, India, Ireland…well, that’s what the kid will turn into. A child can be born in one country and raised in another and the baby will believe what ever it’s taught by the people who raise him or her, regardless of nationality or place of origin.
Beliefs are FLUID. They CHANGE ALL THE TIME. We need to reevaluate what we believe because we can clearly see that we would NOT believe the things we believe if we were raised somewhere else.
Debbie and I are vegetarians. She raised the kids as vegetarians from the start. The kids think it’s wrong to eat, wear, or abuse animals in any way. They were taught to protect and love animals, so that’s what they do. They choose to do it, now that they are older, because they were taught to do it from birth. So among the carnivores, the kids remain animal lovers. When Justin (youngest grandson) had do draw something in art class he drew a two cell cartoon. In the first cell a rat is huddled in the corner of a lab and a man, in a white coat, holding a giant syringe, is looking at the rat. In the second cell, their positions are reversed. We were all very proud of him which, of course, reinforced our belief that it’s wrong to harm animals in any way. No one told him to draw what he drew, he drew it because of the things he was taught about animal experimentation. Everything we do and think started with people telling us what was true and what was not, what was right and what was wrong.
When we move to new places, we learn new things. We start to believe different things, when we live in different countries. We change. We can change our beliefs and the way we look at things anytime we like. We can do that because nothing is really TRUE, we prove that all the time. Things that are true one year are not true the next. And yet, generation after generation we pass down ugly things without even thinking about what we’re doing. We create our world by the things we make up and choose to believe. We create our world by the things we teach our innocent children to believe. It’s always up to us. Always. Everything that’s happening everywhere is because of what people choose to believe and teach. The things we believe often make people afraid of each other. We pass along our fear to each generation, no matter how misguided or unfounded. If we taught our children about love and peace…well, I can’t imagine what the world would be like. Not really. I also don’t think we know how to teach peace, because none of us truly knows what it is. We are way too full of the ideas of others to even think about what we want or what we believe.
Prejudice, hatred, fear are all taught. We could have peace and an end to violence in one second, if we just thought about each other differently. We could end violence against women, children and animals, if we just stopped doing it. Committees and organizations can’t stop prejudice, hatred or violence and fear because they are mindsets that have been taught to us from birth and reinforced through actions. As long as we don’t examine our own beliefs and our behavior, as long as we don’t see that each of us is responsible for our own beliefs and behavior, nothing will ever change. As long as society accepts and fosters prejudice, hatred, fear and violence, that’s the world we will continue to inhabit. But just know, that we are being fed a diet of lies and negative beliefs by the media and powerful people because there is no money in peace, but there’s plenty of it in war.
I think we might try to be different, to help ourselves. But some of the hatred goes too deep, for some people. I don’t see how we can stop the violence or the prejudice. I just wanted to point out why it exists. We TEACH it. We ALLOW it. We celebrate the ugliness through film, our schools, institutions, lies and our legal system. This is our fault. No one can change it but us.