How Can People be so Heartless?

Two weeks ago, Anti–Islamic groups, Reclaim Australia and the United Patriots Front, held protests in Australian capital cities, but they were met with much larger numbers of Anti-racist protesters. Unfortunately, clashes with the police resulted in an ugly outcome in Melbourne, but despite this, I was heartened to see the numbers of people taking a stand against racism was much larger than those expressing the anti-Islamic views. You can read about it here.

Love – 1   Hate – 0

The same weekend, a similar outcome occurred when the Ku Klux Klan organised a rally in South Carolina against the removal of the Confederate flag. They were also outnumbered by those objecting to their ideology.

Love – 2   Hate – 0

On a much smaller issue, recent weeks have seen a lot of publicity in Melbourne about an aboriginal football player, Adam Goodes. I don’t follow the football, and I know little about the issue, but I believe that Goodes upset people initially by his response to a young girl who racially abused him in 2013, and since then, his aboriginal antics have made many non-aboriginals feel threatened, or uncomfortable. I’m assuming this is what has led to the recent trend for the football crowds to boo him whenever he gets the ball.

There are many who believe this mass booing should stop, calling the behaviour racist. Those who support the crowd’s taunts, say their behaviour is not racist, it happens because they don’t like the man.

You can find arguments for both sides here, and here.

Love – 2   Hate – 1

As someone whose football knowledge is very limited, I’m not prepared to enter into either side’s arguments, but I am not proud of the way the Australian Football crowds are treating Goodes.  In my mind, those who claim their right to join a crowd booing a football player for any reason, are taking part in mass bullying. To hear a crowd come together to make someone aware of their dislike for him, is nasty. It’s unkind.

On a much smaller scale, I received a lovely email from a fellow blogger today. I found her blog very early in my blogging adventure and have enjoyed her posts ever since. She writes anonymously, often and well, about her life, her family, her anxiety issues, her work, and her interests, but recently her blog was discovered by a co-worker who disapproved of something she wrote and shared the information among other colleagues. It saddens me that my ‘virtual’ friend feels she needs to bring her blog to an end because she no longer knows who she can trust among her readers, or who might use her deepest thoughts to create gossip in her workplace.

Love – 2   Hate – 2

I have no idea why some of my friend’s work colleagues behaved the way they did, and I only have a vague idea as to why Adam Goodes has been targeted by many football followers, but I do understand the objection to the anti-Islamic groups.

Why do people judge so quickly? Why are some so eager to put down, hate, or hurt one another? How can people be so mean?

We are all different, not just in ethnicity, religious beliefs, or nationality, but in opinions and ideas. There’s no way everyone will agree on all issues, but does that really mean we should attack those who don’t agree with us?

Being Islamic doesn’t make you a bad person, nor does being an aborigine, or a footballer, or a blogger, but being unkind to another human doesn’t make you a good person either. Being rude or nasty to someone you dislike won’t change their behaviour, it only serves to hurt and anger them.

I choose to act with love and trust, rather than hate and fear. There is more good in the world than evil. I see kindness, love, and compassion everyday in the small actions of people everywhere, but I suspect some don’t understand the effect of their actions, good or bad, on others.

As a dyed-in-the-wool hippie (without the drugs), the words to the song Easy to be Hard (written by Ragni, Gerome/Rado, James/Mac Dermot, Galt.) keeps running through my head:

How can people be so heartless?
How can people be so cruel?
Easy to be hard, easy to be cold

You can hear the song here.

You don’t have to like or accept those with different opinions to yours, but leading by example is generally a far better way than using anger or rudeness to change someone’s views.

Let’s stop bullying and hurting one another.

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10 thoughts on “How Can People be so Heartless?

  1. This is just one of the reasons why I love you…Of course we also need to look at the role models provided in our society at the moment…the oppositional politics where scoring political points and staying in power is more important than finding out what the right thing to do is…and then doing it…the radio and television pundits where telling the truth about something (eg same-sex marriage, climate change and I could go on an on) based on science or positive human values seems to have been given the axe in order to get your own way or to make more money. Many of us remember a time when we helped our neighbour to build a better world…now it seems that we are afraid of many of our neighbours because they see the world a little differently to us.

    • Thank you. ❤
      But isn't it nice that so many people are now speaking out in support of Goodes. The bullies are being silenced – well they are on my Facebook page, and in the newspaper I read, and the radio I listen to. Let's hope it carries through to the next game he plays.

    • Thank you, but I’m not that wonderful! 🙂 I have a memory from when I was very young of succumbing to peer pressure and deliberately being nasty to a boy who lived near us. I knew it was wrong and felt dreadful about it at the time, but I didn’t know how to speak up to the other children I was with. I still feel guilty about it and wish I could turn back the clock and apologise to that boy.
      We all hurt other people from time to time, but overall, I like to think it’s thoughtlessness and unintentional. Most people just need to be more mindful of the consequences of their actions or words.

  2. Well said Julie; we’ve heard a bit about the Goodes farrago here in the UK. As an avid watcher of sport you can pretty much tell when the abuse a player gets is in the nature of a reflection of how they are viewed as a player by the opposition crowd or if it is for some other reason. The Australian Cricket team is in England just now and their star bowler, Mitchell Johnson comes in for a lot of abuse. He engages with it, waving at the crowd and being cheered for it; that said it is definitely at a volume to try and put him off his game; similarly, 18 moths ago it was the Aussi crowds trying to do the same to the England bowler Stuart Broad. Yes, it could be seen as bullying and it often exceeds the pleasant but it is aimed at Johnson/Broad the player, not the man. I expect you are right; the attacks on Goodes have a different edge to them and have nothing to do with his status as a footballer.

    • Thanks for commenting, Geoff. I’m amazed that the Goodes story went beyond Australia.
      You’re right of course, booing is a part of sport, but I’d never heard such unified booing before, and it was every time he got anywhere near a ball. I’ve been told he’s a fantastic and fair player.
      Yesterday, he played his first game since the ruckus began, and although there were still boos, they were very few and far between. The tide turned about the same time as I wrote this post, and the the anti-booers came out in force. Listening to what they had to say, it became obvious to me that the reaction from the crowds was a subconscious racism. I think as Australians, many are okay with aboriginal pride when it’s in what they consider the right place, like an aboriginal ceremony or performance, but they didn’t feel it belonged in their ‘white’ game. I hope the discussion helped a few people see and acknowledge the error of their ways.

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