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Unlearning Our Hatred

{By Hannah Nguyen}

As I began to reflect on the current events that are going on, I asked myself, “What is my purpose in wanting to change people’s minds?”

Throughout my life, I’ve been told that it's impossible to change the opinions of those who refuse to have it any other way. Soon, I began to believe that statement as I noticed how difficult it was to have some of my family members, my peers, and even strangers on the internet unlearn their hatred.

With current events revolving around the Black Lives Matter movement, I recognize that the hostility toward the Black community comes from deeply rooted stereotypes or passed down ideologies. In other words, we learn to hate. 

[Image of a protest]

The idea that we learn something new everyday is an incomplete statement. Saying that each day is a new lesson learned conveys that we only continue to gain. However, as we continue to gather new information, we also let go of some or have some replaced by more evolved concepts. For instance, we learn bad habits like getting less sleep or not doing our homework, but over time, we unlearn our negative routines so that we can have more efficient ones. Similarly, we follow an old recipe that we used to love, but as time goes on, we develop different taste buds and the recipe no longer satisfies us anymore, so we replace a few ingredients with new ones. 

Considering that hatred is a learned concept, the idea remains valid. Ultimately, if we are able to learn hate, we are also able to unlearn hate. 

[Image of sign that says "Love to Learn"]

Although I may have good intentions, I’ve been pressured to not change people’s minds because “it’s not worth it.” But if we’ve come to terms with the fact that we can unlearn bad habits or unsatisfying recipes, why have we given up on the idea of unlearning the hatred that was passed down to us? 

If many of us understand that hatred causes destruction because we read about it in history books or we’ve seen it with our own eyes, why do we hold onto it as if it’s essential for our evolution to become a better society? Perhaps it’s because a percentage of us have not realized that we are full of hate. Maybe we think our good qualities, like our manners or the majority of our actions, overpower the hate that remains inside of us. In order to unlearn something, we must have a reason why it’s necessary to do so, similar to how we begin to receive poor grades after not getting enough sleep and losing homework points for not doing it, so we decide to change our habits to improve ourselves. Or, we find that we no longer enjoy the taste of something, so we alter the recipe to reach our satisfaction. We, the people who want to end the hatred, must give others a reason to unlearn it. 

Our efforts to change people’s minds isn’t just for our benefit; it’s for the benefit of us all. If we recognize that undoing the racism that we were taught will be the cure for the pain that our country has continued to suffer from since the day it was founded, we will be able to grow as people and a nation. 

If we feel that our fellow brothers and sisters in this world are good people but have been corrupted by the desire to hate, we know that it is our job to help them see the light after entering a world of darkness. We must help them find the love that they lost.

[Sign that says "We welcome all races and ethnicities, all religions, all countries of origin, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all abilities and disabilities, all spoken languages, all ages, everyone. We stand here with you. You are safe here."]

There is always a valuable lesson coming out of chaos, but we have to motivate ourselves to find it.

We can push for the change that is necessary in order to fix the world that we helped destroy. Change cannot happen if we don’t fully trust our capabilities. It’s certainly not an easy process and it won’t happen overnight, but once we reach that point, it only starts from there.

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