There was a terrible shooting in Toronto this week. It occurred around the corner from where several old friends of mine live. It struck close to me on a human level. It is being felt by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in the city itself. From there, millions are touched across the Nation.
I was alerted to this event by an all-to-frequent notification showing that a Facebook friend was safe at home. This technique is currently being used when a violent incident has taken place to let people connected to them know that they are “safe”, that is, out of harm’s way. It’s a sad and rather ominous time that this is becoming more common in our shared spaces.
According to the news organizations, little is known about the circumstances that gave rise to this violent act and the people who are suffering its consequences. Despite the lack of factual information, xenophobic narratives are being spun in the social media.
How easy it seems to be to spin these tales of hate out of nothing. From my view, this just goes to show that ignorance is the source of racial and ethnic – biased narratives and stories in our culture. The state of ignorance is a lack of knowledge, education, or awareness. Oftentimes, not knowing is circumstantial. That is, based on one’s circumstances, one has not been exposed to or who has become “the other”.
More and more, I contend, these circumstances are becoming a choice. After all, the impact of digital transformation along with increased global migration has tightened our interdependence and made our small world just that much smaller. We rub up against each other socially, including at home watching tv, increasingly. Few of us are so far removed from peoples of difference cultural backgrounds that we aren’t aware of each other.
If we know each other exists, what do we do about eradicating our ignorance about each other?
Educate ourselves about each other. It sounds as simple as it is. The only way to wipe out ignorance, globally, is to set our intentions on learning about one another. Once our intentions are set, we will find the ways and means to do so are right in front of us.
Yes, emotions will arise as we do so. They needn’t remain be fear-based though. We can share our fears as we step through the introductions and participate in each other’s lives. Fear can turn to excitement easily when we are open to learning. It’s through an open mind and heart that we can know each other and in so doing, can stamp out the biases that distort what we know about one another.