"World Peace" – a lifetime wish we all carry in our hearts. Every day when we read the news, we pray for a hate-free world, but how can we achieve this world when we are the ones pushing it further away?! Furthermore, how can more attention dedicated to educating the younger generation can prevent violent attacks like the one we recently witnessed in Brussels?
Earlier this month, two seemingly different, but in fact, similar events took place in the United States. The first one involved two high-school students from Maryland, who have been charged with hate crimes for allegedly painting a swastika on the main sign at Young Israel of Potomac synagogue. The second one was about a new "trend" in Southern Florida of teenagers playing a new version of beer-pong named ”Jews vs. Nazis.” While the stories are somewhat different, they have something in comment, other than the fact that they both reek of anti-Semitism: both stories demonstrate the importance of education in creating the "peaceful, hate-free world" utopia we long for.
The young people in the center of both stories grew up in the two most dangerous types of communities: the hateful one and the indifferent one. When children grow in a hateful environment where people see those who are different from them as lesser human beings, they are more likely to become violent adults, and turn their taught values into action. When other children are surrounded by people that don't give a lot of importance to those who treat others aggressively, they grow to be indifferent adults, who don't put much effort in nurturing values of acceptance and respect, thus giving legitimacy to acts of hatred.
Turning the horrors of the Holocaust into a humorous game is not so different from drawing a swastika on a synagogue. True, it is not an act of violence, but it is what gives it legitimacy. While those beer-pong teenagers' intentions can enjoy the benefit of the doubt, the intentions of the teenagers vandalizing the synagogue are very clear, and very disturbing. They are 16 and 17 years old. Only at the beginning of their lives, and already have a solid, formed opinion of the society. The indifference coming from their classmates only drives them into action that will only become more dangerous in the future.
These stories are merely examples of a growing worldwide phenomenon, in the center of which are indifferent teenagers “feeding” their hateful classmates. How to stop the hatred from spreading? In one word: Education. Parents, teachers and television – these are the main educators forming the younger generation. They hold the key to a better world, one step closer to our utopia. They are the ones who can teach young children values of acceptance and respect, and the importance of those values as well. They are the ones who can help the next generation care enough to not let the uneducated hateful people take pride in their destructive actions.
It's not that hard, really. We all know the world we want for our children. All we need to do now is to help them build it. Indifference sows the seeds of hatred, and "youthful acts of rebellion" today are the violent acts against innocents of tomorrow.
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