There is too much hatred, discontent, judgment and condemnation in our world today. Instead of being taught to "love thy neighbor" we are expected to despise our neighbor if they do not think the way we think they should.
According to Robert J. Cramer, Richard C. Fording, Phyllis Gerstenfeld, Andre Kehn, Jason Marsden, Cynthia Deitle, Angela King, Shelley Smart, and Matt R. Nobles in their article published on Health Affairs, hate-motivated behavior is a public health threat with structural, interpersonal, and individual antecedents and effects. There is a need for interdisciplinary, multilevel research to better understand the causes of such behavior and to test prevention strategies and interventions.
The last several years have seen discrimination, and hate ideology shift from the fringes of society to mainstream social media and political and social discourse.
Hate-motivated behavior, which is highly prevalent and likely underreported, comprises a continuum of behavior from subtle discrimination to violent crime. It is a time when everyone feels unsafe.
Law enforcement has become weakened internally and externally as hatred for anyone who chooses law enforcement as a vocation means that they are often viewed as the criminals and their lives are at risk, on duty and off.
Moving forward, public health efforts addressing hate-motivated behavior should tackle intervention across structural, interpersonal, and individual levels while not becoming fueling stations for continued dissent and hatred.
Hate-motivated behavior can be thought of as verbal or nonverbal expressions of discrimination. For instance, hate speech comprises the verbal or written expression of prejudice aimed at harming another group. Hate crimes are commonly defined as harmful acts toward a person or group based on actual or perceived group membership. Acts of hate are thought to be effortful or intentional. The Federal Bureau of Investigation recognizes myriad groups targeted on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, and disability, but fall behind in realizing that these once targeted vulnerable groups are now, instead of understanding the pain, desperation, and emotional and physical trauma of being the ones targeted, are taking on perpetrator behaviors and allowing hate to morph their thinking and behaviors as they begin to resemble and mimic the hateful and harmful behaviors they once despised.
Experiences of hate have always been associated with poor emotional well-being such as feelings of anger, shame, and fear. Moreover, people who feel and defines themselves as victims tend to experience poor mental health, including depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, and suicidal behavior. Medically, impacts include poor overall physical health, physical injury, stress, and difficulty accessing medical care. Victimization is also associated with poor health behaviors such as alcohol or drug use and unhealthy coping strategies such as emotion suppression. The experience of hate-motivated behavior can result in blaming of and lower empathy toward fellow victims.
Hateful acts, especially hate crimes, are rooted in biases or even the simple preferences all people possess. For some people, these biases may manifest as prejudicial or stigmatizing beliefs. Prejudicial processes happen when people engage in cognitive shortcuts via stereotypes, which are exaggerated beliefs about a group or evaluations of an object, person, or group. Prejudicial beliefs also stem from negative emotional reactions to members of any given group. Prejudice ultimately shows up as discriminatory behaviors directed toward another person on the basis of group membership, forgetting the unique and extraordinary qualities possessed by individuals when they are committed to love, respect and acceptance as their defining values.
We need to step back from group think and group identity and ask ourselves what values we desire to build our lives around. Harming others, emotionally, physically, financially goes against the core of what it means to be humankind. Without individuals taking a stand for providing basic respect, compassion and dignity for every person they meet and interact with, we in danger of losing what it truly means to be human.
Personality and relationship expert Dawn Billings is the author and architect of Primary Colors Relationship Personality Tests and RelationshipHelp.com training. Dawn is the author of hundreds of articles and executive director of the Relationship Help Resort in Arizona where she leads private couple's retreats and intensives to strengthen, empower and heal relationships, and does expert training for professionals who desire to utilize an insight tool for their clients that can help develop emotional intelligence and communication skills.