Bigotry Comes from the Heart, not Mind: Make Peace with Them and Yourself

I’m frustrated. I really am.

If you check the psyche of Indonesian social media Timeline or Feed, especially Facebook in the late of 2016, it won’t difficult for you to spot some social media posts that are hate-mongering; sentiment towards particular race or religion, bread (what? Yes, a bread), Santa Claus hat (What? Yes, Santa’s hat) or the new design of Indonesian Rupiah that looks like Chinese Yuan and is decorated with non-Islamic National Heroes (I mean, come on!).

Don’t we have anything worth angrying than those things?

Dr. Harald Weilnböck, a researcher, psychotherapist and deradicalization practitioner in prison and community contexts, believes one method that does not work, but which continues to have many supporters, is the idea that the Internet and media programs can be used to deradicalize violent extremists:

"That (the Internet and media programs) is a true fallacy which you see policymakers all over Europe and the world believe in. The processes of deradicalization actually relies on a direct interpersonal relationship placed in a confidential setting where individuals have names and can actually be identified and then directly interact -- face-to-face. Videos cannot deradicalize anyone."

So, if I get Dr. Harald’s notions right, the result of conducting conversational online jihad; debate or reason with our friends and family who spread some hate-mongering, potentially hoax, articles or information will be in vain.

I’m so sorry to point out the fact that:

They will not change their stance. But, hey, just like people on the other side will not change their stance. Congratulations! We’re all bigots!

Maybe, it’s all right. Maybe, it's inevitable for some people to become suicide bombers sooner or later, maybe they will fly to Syria, harass their look-like Chinese people in Indonesia, prejudice more on non-Muslim friends, and punch me in the face one day, and so on.

Oh, and on the other side, the rest of Indonesians will remain live in a moderately liberal life; believe in its values and everything.

Apparently, that’s life.

Bigotry comes from fear

It’s very likely, no doubt, that any of those people who post such articles, twits or status, will not change their stance about what they believe as dangerous Chinese workers, dangerous non-Islamic money design, dangerous Santa hat, dangerous bread, dangerous Jewish’s Facebook that they keep on using, and so on.

If we take a deeper look, the danger of this and that has become the central point of the discourses.
It’s emotional. It’s fear.

Think about a little child who is afraid of Kuntilanak hanging on the tree saying, “Daddy, I’m scared. There MUST BE a scary lady looking at me evil on that giant tree.”

As a rational adult you'll say, “No, there’s nothing to scare about up there. Let’s walk home.
Don’t be scared”. 

But, the kid might reply, ”NO! I’m scared. My friends told me that they’ve seen the scary lady on the same tree!"
And so on.. Just the same case as "The Monster Under the Bed" story.

My point is that you can’t reason with a terrified kid, can you?

No matter how rational you are, no matter how determined you're stating credible facts and figures; the fear of the kid is just too strong to beat. It’s an emotion that maybe stronger than “love” itself you’re dealing with. You know, the fear of losing…

So, if you reason about the danger of Santa’s hat, then the fear of having an unstable Iman will likely beat your logic, and so on.

Do I have a solution on this matter? No, I don’t think I have. But, I’m trying to understand some things here myself.

As a person who highly embraces differences, I'll absolutely celebrate these differences of people understanding things in different way. I’ve actually met some people from the other side who have great attitude in reasoning about abovementioned hate-mongering topics online. So, I see a glimpse of hopes there. You should too.

To instantly judge people with different view an ignorant will be unfair. Maybe I just don’t know what has happened in their life that may substantially affect their view on something. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I know, the online debate on everything will be there forever. There will be another people in another time who advocate values that both sides believe. It's endless. And, the online media development will be just going up. At least, I have a better view on how to comprehend this phenomenon right now.

I fully agree with the experts that interpersonal approach should be advocated to raise a better understanding among ourselves. Make more friends and communicate more with our Hindu, Buddhist, Christians, Chinese, Arab, Indians, and Muslims of different sects friends, pretty much everyone from any nation, race and tribe. 

Ask bold questions that we’ve been afraid of asking all this time in order to understand and diminish prejudices.

As a Muslim, The Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Last Sermon at Mount Arafat in 632 AD always hit me to the core. In his speech, Muhammad stated:
“An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab ... a white person has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”

Let’s make peace with everyone and ourselves.


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