People early on learn the Golden Rule, essentially to treat others (regardless of differences) as you wish to be treated. For those who are Christians, the idea of treating others well is found in the Bible's New Testament — for example, in Matthew: "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Clearly love and compassion, not hatred and coldness, are part of Jesus' teaching, as well as part of other religions.
The outcome of the recent election has served as a wake-up call for many. The campaign and its outcome demonstrated the need for people to recommit themselves to these ideas. There is now a widespread realization that there are increased threats, including violence, to vulnerable populations — minorities, disabled, the elderly, and lower-middle class and poor groups in this country. It is great to see the turnout of so many promising to protect those under threat.
Many have long realized that these vulnerable groups have been under attack by biased economic policies and systemic racism as well as by individual and group acts of discrimination for decades (or centuries) prior to the Nov. 8 election. People have previously come together to struggle against these policies and endemic racism.
Others are working to help those threatened by policies designed to benefit those at the top of the income ladder. Those under this threat include the homeless, the jobless, the hungry, the mentally challenged, people facing foreclosures, prisoners, people without health insurance, minorities, etc. Groups are working to protect the public good, to protect and expand Social Security and Medicare, to campaign for a living wage, to have publicly funded child care, to defend prisoner rights, and to have a clean and safe environment.
From colonial time, and especially in hard economic times, the rich and powerful have used the tactic of divide and conquer to keep the great majority of the people from coming together to challenge the power of the few. Unfortunately, this approach is still effective. Hatred against and fear of minorities (including immigrants) is stoked by scapegoating them for the recurring economic hardships and crimes.
Until we live up to the Golden Rule, we won't succeed in reducing hatred, fear and racism. Until we come together and understand how we are being manipulated to protect the interests of the 1 percent, we won't succeed in making the economic system meet the needs of the people.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.