February 25, 2024 ()

The Power of Words

When I graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2007, I was one of only a few Jews in that year’s matriculating class. The student speaker that day was not Jewish, but what she said was a credit to Jews everywhere. Growing up, she stated, she’d never met a Jewish person, yet she’d been raised to hate the people of that faith. When she finally left home to attend college, she met us few Jews on campus and discovered that we were nice people, and not at all like the perpetrated stereotype she had learned to detest as a child.

We’d do right to ask ourselves, why do certain individuals persist in hating and vilifying people that they don’t even know, who pose no real threat to them? In answer, the well-known scholar Umberto Eco suggests that human beings need enemies. Through their jealousy and paranoia, they elevate their own ego, and solidify their identities. Whether it be towards Jews or any other minority group, their hatred gives them the illusion of strength as they tear others down. What they don’t realize is that by poisoning their lives with animosity they’re actually undermining their own humanity. These individuals lose sight of common decency and instead engage in bigotry, even if the minority they evangelize against have never offended them personally.

If only these misinformed zealots could replace their hatred with empathy, by imagining what it may be like to live as the victims they speak out against. Eradicating this blind hatred and replacing vitriol with love is an essential movement that we all should be a part of. For if we don’t advocate for optimism, altruism and respect towards humankind, the hatred they the Jews are withstanding currently could spread to other minority groups and overtake the entire world. We must combat the ugliness we see pervading both in the United States and countries abroad and encourage our fellow citizens to unite in positive acts of acceptance and lovingkindness. Let’s not allow the hate speech and acts that are currently trending to spread like a disease. Instead let’s be the proponents of love and tolerance and by extension the cure that heals our ailing world.

Each of us has a piece of godliness in us and the potential to act with purity and kindness. Leaning into those qualities would be transformative, not just to the individual accentuating these components in himself, but for the people he deigns to help. Every day, we hear of abhorrent acts being committed, but we also hear tales of heroism and allegiance. Let’s tip the scales in that direction with actions and words so powerful that discrimination is eradicated once and for all. Let’s not only change the conversation but the whole current of global feeling, so that the whole world may unite as one entity under the umbrella of tolerance and liberty. Who is ready to join me?