Hate is a byproduct of ignorance. Sometimes ignorance is a product of a lack of opportunities. At times ignorance is isolation.

Ignorance can be a product of fear. No one chooses to be ignorant freely. We would like to think that if we knew so little about something and wanted to know more about something we would express curiosity, ask questions, open a book and read on it, learn and experience so we can soften our minds and open our hearts.

Hate is not our enemy, ignorance is. Hate is not our enemy, isolationism is. Hate is not our enemy, fear and protectionism are.

I organized the first Stop The Hate Walk in Clinton 18 years ago and we are celebrating it again on Thursday at 4:45 p,m. at Jefferson Elementary School. It was a stand against racism, sexism, gender bias, and religious intolerance. I wish I could rename it “Stop Ignorance, Try Curiosity – soften your mind and open your heart.”

The goals and objectives are the same. The heartfelt intention to include rather than exclude is the same. The genuine feeling of listening to and welcoming those who are marginalized is the same. The giving of voice and power to those who have been helpless and powerless is the same.

Please come and join us this Thursday in celebrating each other and learning from each other. Lend your voices and ears so we can all be heard. It is not about freedom of speech, it is about speech that embraces and empowers.

Alma A. Mariano,

Clinton

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