Anthonia Folashade and Eseimokumo Albert
Words possess immense power; they can inspire, unite, and uplift individuals, they can as well inflict deep wounds and sow seeds of hatred too. Hate speech leverages the potency of language to demean, dehumanize, and marginalize entire communities.
By targeting the most fundamental aspects of a person’s identity, hate speech erodes the very essence of their humanity, fostering an environment of fear, hostility, and alienation, and at times lifetime enmity or even death.
Now to you reading this piece, who are you and what manner of words do you speak to the people around you? Do you speak kind words to them or you rather say hurtful words without minding whether or not it pierces through their heart thereby damaging them? I hope you know that words are powerful and how you convey whatever you say at times matters a lot.
Looking for ways to counter hate and hate speech? There’s no other way than for you to;
Stop it, in all its entire form.
Stop hating on people around you. Before you say any word at all, make sure to evaluate the words and also weigh the aftermath of your words and actions. You really do not know what people are going each day that passes by. Some may be dying in silent pains but do not outpour what they feel inside of them to outsiders, but immediately an ill word is said to them, they become the most disastrous beings ever. These reactions can sometimes be dangerous as the pains must have pissed them up for long.
See the best in people.
As much as you can, do everything within your capacity to see the best in people. Do well to always support people’s efforts no matter how little it is, it will give them the strength to do more next time or in the future.
Many a time, what people need to hear is a kind word, other times, they may not be the best you expect them to be, however, you can lift up by their spirit by saying positive words to them. Words like ‘you are doing well’, ‘keep it up’, ‘you can do it’, you can do better’. Such words are capable of bringing back life to people no matter how downtrodden they are.
If all you see and can say is negatives, stay mute instead.
There some people who never sees anything good in people’s efforts and all they can see is negativity. There is also nothing that others can do that will please them, all they do is insults and unappreciative mindsets. It is better not to say anything, if you know that all you can say or see is negative energy.
Don’t join the number of people out there who find joy in bringing others down with their words and actions.
One big mistake that people often make is that they join the crowd to criticize people without bothering to find out their plight. In most cases, what people say about others is sometimes not true. They may speak ill of people out of jealousy and envy that is why it’s best for you not to say hate words at all other than joining them.
You can make the change. In fact, you should be the change
Change begins with you and me.
If you’re aware that what you’re about to say will hurt other people’s feelings, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, other than saying it, don’t say it at all.
Be the healing voice out there and at the same time, teach others to stop the hate.
At this point, I believe you’re now aware that you can either make or mar people with the kind of words you speak. You can damage a fellow’s mental health when you think you can say whatever you have to say and there’s nobody out there that can stop you from saying it.
Remember, hate paralyzes life, and it is only love that can release it, as such, be at peace with everyone around you as much as possible. Love and not hate. Be kind, regardless.
In commemoration of the 2023 International day for Countering Hate Speech, Building Blocks for Peace Foundation is lending its voice with other stakeholders across the world (including URI) to say #NoToHate and also #SayNoToHateSpeech.
Join us to say #NoToHate and #NoToHateSpeech.