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THE CONTAGION OF MENTAL DIS-EASE

Posted Dec 05 2009 7:29pm
If only we could discover an anti-hate vaccine to prevent the HATRED that seems to be mutating from country to country, from adults to children alike, not only in the far reaches of the world but here at home in the good, old United States of America!

Some argue that there is no increase in crimes on college campuses, that there’s no increase in crimes against women, that there’s no increase in hatred toward any minority group, and these same folks also believe that there were always wars being fought and that we, in the 21st century, are experiencing all that those who have preceded us have experienced throughout the ages. Their favorite argument is that we just read more about it because of the easy access to news via the internet and the media in general.

While I’m not unaware of the power of the media and of course it is true that it does make everything more accessible to us these days, I don’t believe that’s the whole story. Because I don't, and because I believe it's a subject we must address, I will also say that it saddens me to write a blog about HATRED and what it says about us as people, no matter what our racial, religious, or economic status may be.

Unfortunately, statistics do support my belief about the spread of this disease.

The F.B.I. reported that “the incidence of hate crimes in the United States during 2008 hit a seven-year high ... The 7783 documented hate crimes in 2008 represented a 2.1 per cent increase from 2007 and the highest since 2001. The 1519 religion/biased hate crimes were also at a seven year high.”

I don’t take it lightly when I read about so-called “incidents” in schools where students attack other students. Case in point: In late October pupils from a suburban St. Louis middle school allegedly hit Jewish classmates during what they called HIT A JEW DAY. Apparently, it began harmlessly enough with a HUG A FRIEND DAY. Then, prior to HIT A JEW DAY there was a HIGH FIVE DAY and HIT A TALL PERSON DAY.

In other schools there was a KICK A GINGER DAY (referring to all red headed students), and the latest incident was in Naples, Florida, where yet another HIT A JEW DAY occurred, injuring several Jewish students.

I don’t consider such acts to be merely childhood pranks, and I do fault the principals and schools that have decided to slap the hands of the perpetrators and do little else except in some instances to offer classes in tolerance or one-day of in-house suspension.

Tolerance? Such classes are, in my opinion, preaching to the choir. The message will not register with the the perpetrators as they represent a societal symptom, a fast spreading disease, a hot hatred, and one that I believe is contagious. The offenders may be – for any combination of reasons - ripe for mischief and attracted to receiving negative attention, even at the expense of their peers. They are not, though, simple mischief-makers or bullies. They may have their ideas spurred on by the movies they watch, the video games they see which have graphic scenes of violence, or the endless media coverage of crimes, all of which gives them the impetus to “play” copy-cat, but what they suffer from is not necessarily a genetically inherited disease or one due to a mob mentality which believes it’s simply pulling an un-punishable prank. It’s HATRED, outright HATRED perpetrated against any one or any group that's different from them and whom they consciously decide to target and attack. The students in Naples, Florida are a symptom of a wider dis-ease. Let’s not forget Columbine!

However few or many they may be in numbers, those who seek to “HIT” are in desperate need of attention. with no conscience and no thought or care about possible consequences for their victims or for themselves.

The good news, though, is that the mental health of our children and the generations that will follow ours is still – though limited – in our hands. Just as it is currently every family’s right to decide on choices for their children’s physical health, such as the administration of the Swine Flu vaccination, it’s also every family’s responsibility to monitor their children’s mental health. We can’t take on the world, but we can commit ourselves to being role models for those in our care, teaching them above all else respect for others, as well as self-respect. Only then will our best and brightest devote their lives to the betterment of our world and to eradicating or at very least minimizing the numbers of people afflicted by this DISEASE of HATRED.

I see that as being our only hope for lessening the power of the few over the many, the diseased over the healthy, the productive over the destructive.

Do let me know if you agree or disagree with me.

~ Linda
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