Creating Hate

Creating HateI recently received the opportunity to interview the author of the new book “Creating Hate: How It Is Done. How to Destroy It. A Practical Handbook”, which takes a deep look at the root of how hate is created and perpetrated by others. Much like many things in bullying, hatred and resentment are feelings that both the victim and the bully can have. These issues can work themselves into the psyche of the person and then continue for their life. Author Nancy Omeara takes readers on a journey to the origins of hate and how we might better deal with it in the future. I learned much from my interview with her as I hope you will reading it.

Q: Why do you think there is so much apathy today in the world? Do you believe we are more apathetic today or empathetic?

Ms. Omera: It might be because today people can see bad things happening “live” from anywhere in the world, so think they can’t do anything about it themselves.  This isn’t true.  Just by looking around – including at websites like yours – one can see that individuals make a difference every day.  Even small changes, collectively, make a big difference.

Q.: Why do you think people struggle with race relations so much? What do you believe is the cause of hatred among different races?

Ms. Omera: In my experience it is mostly ignorance reinforced by lies or information that is partly true, but is slanted to lower the opinion of another race.  Truths – like the facts that DNA, blood tests, brain scans, x-rays, IQ tests, driving exams, etc. don’t show any difference in races – are not pushed. Truthfully “race” is about skin pigmentation – with northern races needing less pigment because the sun’s rays are weaker.

I once read about a white boy living in Africa whose local friends felt sorry for him because of his lack of color – thus easily sunburned skin.

Q:  You talk of the use of Generalities as a hate issue? This has been going on for centuries, whether race or religion. Why do you believe this still continues today and how can it be stopped? Even today, people use terms such as “they tried to jew me down” to talk about someone negotiating. Do you think people even know what they are saying anymore? Are they really hateful or ignorant?

Ms. Omera: People haven’t been taught that hurtful generalities can breed hate and ill-will. Words like they, them, everyone, all can be used as destructive propaganda. As can, of course, words that put a whole class of people in a negative light.

We have to look at individuals – how they behave, how they treat others, what they do in life.  Where they came from, their parentage they had no control over.

Q: Do you believe that, as in your book, leaders perpetrate lies in order to create hate? It seems true more in the 20th and 21st centuries. Why has this become part of accepted culture?

Ms. Omera: Yes, leaders of groups like the KKK, anti-gay organizations, some political group organizations, and even some religious leaders push the faults of what they oppose, rather than promoting better ideas from their own group. Maybe it’s accepted because we want to believe it.

I don’t think most people really believe everything they hear from their leaders.  Too many have been proven wrong in hindsight.   I think the average person is a lot more discerning than their leaders realize.  (Which might be why leaders change so often in so many groups.)

Q: You talk in your book about religious intolerance or religious hatred. Why do you think it is so easy to use religion as a way to create hate? How can this be stopped?

Ms. Omera: Most of us really know very little about other religions.  It is not studied in public school (separation of Church and State), nor usually in religious-based schools (like Catholic schools).  So unless we actually meet, talk to in-depth, delve, and ask deeper questions, we might know the surface differences between religions.

In fact, it doesn’t take much digging to learn that most religions (in their actual writings, maybe not some interpretations) teach about caring for one’s fellow man, respecting all people, the importance of family.  Universal similarities at the most basic level.

Q: How guilty do you believe the mainstream media is today in helping continue the spread of hate? For example, why do you think the media focuses more on negative stories than helping promote more positive items the world, to include political rhetoric?

Mainstream media has an agenda – they run stories based on harm, sex, big money, big names and controversy. A story is considered “sexy” the more of these items it contains.  You can prove this to yourself by looking up the information on who wins Nobel Prizes – for immensely important contributions to science and culture.  Nobel Prize Winners might get a 2-inch square on a front page in complete opposition to the contribution their work has for the future of mankind.

I’ve spoken to many media people and have rarely found them deeply interested in the truth.  Instead they want a “story” – with as much controversy as possible.

Q: The book talks of trying to push non-violence, a feeling I also share. How do you think the world can start to think more in that manner? Is it a matter of education or continued ignorance on the part of parts of the world?

Non-violence requires education and rational heads.  When violence breaks out everyone and anyone who can make their voice heard needs to do so.  We can’t just leave it to the police. Ministers, school principals, teachers, Scout leaders, parent groups have to take action. History is filled with the excellent results of people standing strong for peaceful, non-violent change and for redress of wrongs in a non-violent way. I don’t know that these examples are given enough importance in our study of history.

Q: Finally, my website deals with the long-term effects of bullying. How do you think bullying fits in with early learning of hatred and how can we change the thinking of that younger bully to learn to be more non-violent? On that note, do you think hate is a natural trait or a taught trait?

Children have to be taught to respect others.  It should be done by parents but we know that doesn’t always happen. So it has to be taught in school.

Children are actually greatly affected by those around them.  If children won’t let other children bully, it can be stopped. Children can be taught to stand up, not violently, but by telling a bully to stop, telling them it’s not OK.  Kids can be quite strong. They can stand up against bullying and that can stop the minority of children who do bully.

I was rarely bullied myself as I could use the threat of my two older brothers to scare off other children. So in my experience bullies are cowards.  They attack from a position of weakness. I’d like to see the “good kids” ganging up, speaking out against and stopping bullying.

One final comment is that a better measure of any person, rather than religion, race, sexual preference, is whether they are living a productive, contributive life.  I.e. Are they adding to the world – from web-designers to fireman, teachers to counselors – people whether a person is giving or taking (as in criminals, in jail, using your hard-earned money to live on) should be the measure.  Schools seem to teach facts and figures.  Parents, siblings, groups like Scouts and 4H, Church groups, these seem to teach values.  The more values and the more ability to think for oneself – the better.

You can get Nancy Omeara’s new book “Creating Hate: How It Is Done. How to Destroy It. A Practical Handbook” at bookstores and on Amazon.com to learn more about this subject and about how Ms. Omeara approaches stopping hate.


Biography
NANCY OMEARA volunteered on a national religious tolerance hotline for over five years , personally answering more than 5,000 calls and helping people resolve all kinds of situations involving deep belief differences. Nancy has lived in seven different countries, and visited a dozen others, interacting with people of diverse religions, backgrounds and values. The concepts in this book stem from her personal experiences. (Biography courtesy of Amazon.com)

Creating Hate Book Jacket

Todd Rosenthal’s Playground Playbook

Todd Rosenthal

Todd Rosenthal

I had an opportunity to interview Todd Rosenthal and review The Playground Playbook by former minor league ballplayer Todd Rosenthal. Mr. Rosenthal takes and interesting coaching approach in his book to help children who struggle with playground bullies and getting involved in the games. During his interview, Mr. Rosenthal brings up some interesting points about how to get your child involved in the playground to try to overcome bullying. ~ Alan Eisenberg


Q: Where did the inspiration for you to write The Playground Playbook come from for you. Was it your past or something you experienced or saw?

Todd Rosenthal: It was a combination of a few things. I spend a majority of my time in three ways. Playing music, working with children through sports, and for recreation by playing pick up basketball in New York City. I saw many of the same themes crossing over in all of those areas and wondered if there was a “basics” type of guide written for kids in terms of joining groups in the same impromptu playground settings.

Q: What do you think the long-term effects of children ostracize other children on the playground can cause?

Todd Rosenthal: I think for the ones ostracized, it can cause a lack of confidence that can be habit-forming which can lead to less than optimal performances in and away from sports. That self-doubt that says “they don’t like me” or “they don’t believe in me” can be harder to overcome if one is constantly being excluded at a young age.

The ones doing the excluding are not maximizing their own skills as people either because great players should strive to improve too and become leaders: those who play well yet can make others around them better and more comfortable too. Leaders are able to include and work alongside teammates with various levels of skill.

In the elementary school playgrounds, those same leaders shouldn’t always have to win by loading their team up. They can sense a newcomer or a shy kid and welcome the challenge to include him or her to the team.

Playground PlaybookQ:  In the book, you discuss the child wanting others to ask to play. How do you see this issue as part of the overall bullying problem. Such as they not only say no, but also tease the child? What do you think the child should do in those cases, such as your reference to the “you stink” issue?

Todd Rosenthal: It never a good feeling being rejected by a playing group and feels even worse if it comes with lines attached like “you stink.” The best way I have found for kids to overcome that stigma is to prove the playing group wrong. Be tough! keep asking to play each day until the group finally needs an extra body one day and go out there and make an impact in the game.

If not, you can always just showcase your skills in the neighboring field or court where the ostracize group can see you. One thing the excluded child cannot do however, is back down and quit. Never to play with anyone else at all.

Q: Do you think that “veteran” players are easily identified? If so, how do you see their role in helping a child be able to join and play as well?

Todd Rosenthal: Veterans probably seem more relaxed to the rookie than they themselves feel so, yes. Vets probably are more relaxed too, after all they have been through it before. That is the essence of a veteran. They’ve been in all sorts of games. Blowouts, close games, high scoring ones, low scoring ones. They’ve made plays and have made mistakes. They’ve been the hero and the goat. All of which combine to give them a sense of stature and calm in the games.

Veterans know not only the intricacies of a sport’s rules, they may also know how their particular playground works. How sides are chosen. Which of the groups players acts as the leaders picking the sides most often. A veteran can offer advice in many areas and can be helpful to a “rookie” in terms of knowing who to ask as far as joining the game. Rookies have to speak up and ask vets their questions though, because not all of them are thinking about how to be helpful to those less experienced.

Q: Why do you think bullying on the playground is so prevalent? Do you have any suggestions further than the ones in the book on dealing with the bully at the time they are bullying you?

Todd Rosenthal: Bullying is prevalent because it is a basic microcosm of power, it can corrupt some people who go unchallenged. In my experience as a player in street ball, the best way to deal with physical or verbal abuse is to not back down. Play well, and be ready to stand up for one’s self if it comes to that. Most of the players I’ve run into on the courts in streetball who go to excessive lengths to scare or talk smack are hiding something. Like their own inability to shoot, or dribble well. Keep that in mind the next time you are being bullied, and work hard to not let a little extra shoving or smack talk derail you from playing your game. It’s harder to bully a player who doesn’t seem affected than one who plays less aggressively as a result.

Q: What tips do you have to help children build a tougher skin when playing games on a playground? Certainly some complain, but how can children develop coping mechanisms to better deal with those situations?

Todd Rosenthal: First understand where blame from the team within comes from. Those who try to assign blame on a teammate for a previous mistake do so to build collateral against their own gaffes or seek to camouflage them by pointing the finger elsewhere, since nobody is perfect. Know that as a player. This way the “why did you do that?!!” nonsense you may get from a teammate won’t bother you as much.

As far as handling winning and losing, and the smack talk that comes from all directions, just play more. Experience it over and over. Then the whole nature of game playing becomes easier. Like riding a bike. You have to practice to take the fear of falling out.

Q: Would you like to share a bullying story here with my readers that you experienced? How did you handle your own issues with bullying in your youth?

Todd Rosenthal: I was verbally bullied pretty hard after a pickup game in a park as an adult years ago. This after the man I was guarding scored the game winning basket in a high intensity game that was tied, and the next basket was to be the winner. The loss, as it does in pickup hoops if others are waiting, forced my team off the court. It was jam-packed that day. Many other five man teams had called “next.”

I didn’t know anybody in the park at all and my reward for being the face of the defeat, was abuse for an hour from my now “ex teammates.” Things like “thanks a lot, you suck” or “how’d you let that happen? and of course “Don’t ever come back here.” Two players in particular who were furious with me, now that they had to wait until their “next” was called one plus hour from the time we lost or hope that another team would pick them up to play before.

The more I watched the rest of that day though, the more I realized that EVERYONE who lost on other teams that followed the game I was in, were blamed by their teammates that day. So it was not just me. It wasn’t necessarily personal either. My team didn’t dislike ME. They disliked losing and losing the court.

By continuing to show up at the park and not attach too much weight should any game result in a loss and or finger-pointing, I became part of that extended group of players at the park. Emotionally capable of “taking some heat” so to speak, so rewarded with the opportunity to play by being picked by others forming teams that year as the summer developed.

Q: Where can people get “The Playground Playbook“?

Todd Rosenthal: It’s available on Amazon both as a soft cover copy and as a digital download.

A Look Toward The Future of Battling the Bully Problem

What new technologies are coming in the future? Well it’s certainly unpredictable. But guest blogger Paul Rothbein has some ideas and I believe he might be on to something. Below are a few of his thoughts as well as a new perspective to the age old problem of bullying. ~Alan Eisenberg


Karen Klein CheckIn 2012, 32,251 people donated over $700,000 worth of money to a charitable project within 30 days. All these individuals donated $700,000 for Karen Klein to go on vacation. Who is Karen Klein and why would anyone donate money for someone to go on vacation? Karen Klein was a 68 year old woman who was videotaped being bullied on a bus by middle-school children.

Her daughter Amanda created a crowdfunding campaign to raise $5,000 for her to experience relief after this traumatic experience. The video went viral and she received the support from as over 32,000+ donors and 14,000% more money than the original funding goal. This is the direct opposite of cyber-bullying.

Unfortunately, most of the donors if not all the donors were not middle school children but adults. Children are normally not sensitive towards bullying like adults are. Soon, there might be apps in 2016 that encourage cyber bullying. Right now Facebook and other major social networks don’t have any policies to ban cyber bullying. With obesity on the rise among young children there will probably be more students being bullied for being overweight.

What we learned from the Karen Klein story is that the internet has as great ability to counter bullying as it can to inspire bullying. The story of Karen Klein also represents the power of video. How could a low budget movie like Gasland could prevent the world’s largest industry (oil and gas) the ability to drill for natural gas in New York, in France, in South Africa, and across the world? The low budget film Blackfish has significantly hurt SeaWorld’s stock after raising concerns about how Orcas are bullied by being raised in captivity.

Will there be a movie or video released somewhere in 2015 – 2020 that will inspire the same change on the issue of bullying? It is possible. However, adults must be the ones to step up. We need something in the near future about something that does not only raise awareness on the issue of bullying. We need something that creates a sense of urgency to tackle the issue of bullying. ~Paul Rothbein


Paul Rothbein is a future enthusiast and the founder of The Perspective 2020 Directory to Everything, and the Perspective 2020 Almanac To Everything: A Decade In Review. Both are due to be released in early 2015, with a Kickstarter campaign set for December 1. More details can be found on perspectivethemag.com.

Why I Wear Contacts (A Personal Story)

glassesWhen I was in high school, a friend of mine thought my wearing contacts was a sign of vanity. He thought I wore them because I thought glasses were nerdy or uncool. Clearly there were many things wrong with this friendship; but even after I rid myself of him, I couldn’t rid myself of the nagging feeling that maybe he was right– until I was reminded why he was wrong.

I have been wearing contacts since the summer before 8th grade, which was approximately 20 years ago (give or take). Before that, I’d worn glasses since 3rd grade. Both of my parents have terrible eye sight, and the genetic lottery dealt me the same hand.

My parents knew my eyesight was bad when I started getting frequent headaches, which is a common symptom of both nearsightedness and farsightedness in children. Our family eye doctor confirmed my nearsightedness and walked me to the eye-glass center at the other end of his office. There, I picked out the most righteous pair of huge, pale pink glasses you’ve ever seen (kind of like these, but definitely not Givenchy).

So I wore bulky, plastic glasses for 5 years, but the headaches didn’t seem to fade. When I turned 13, the eye doctor suggested contacts. He explained that the blurriness in my peripheral vision, where my glasses lenses didn’t reach, could be causing the headaches. So I got contacts and my world was changed.
I didn’t get headaches all the time and glasses no longer slide down my nose. I didn’t freak out during PE when a ball came flying at me, worried my glasses would break. I could wear sunglasses and not the kind that clipped onto my frames. I became more confident because people could see me, rather than a face half-obscured by glasses.

Fast forward many, many years and I found myself in my early 30s and I had tried every kind of contact—daily, monthly, yearly, and color tinted. Then I moved to Austin, where pollen allergies make you wish you didn’t have mucus ducts. My eyes got so red, dry, itchy, and irritated, that I couldn’t fathom putting anything in those bright bring orbs. So I had to give up my contacts in favor of glasses. And guess what? The headaches came back.

With some natural remedies and some medical ones, as well, I finally got my allergies under control enough to wear my contacts again. And when I was ready to pop those contacts back in, I thought of my very judgmental friend and smirked. I can’t express how grateful I am that I chose to drop him, rather than my contacts.

~Amanda Ronan

How Did You Recover from Bullying?

“How did you recover from the bullying you experienced as a youth?” she asked me.

What a great and difficult question this is for me to answer. I am 46 years old now. Bullying, for me, ended when I was 14. It is now 32 years later and I still am in recovery. When will I get better? That is a question that I can’t answer at this time, because the truth is, I don’t know. To understand what I mean, you have to understand that what is done cannot be undone. In fact there is a great teaching method to teach children about bullying called ‘The Crumpled Piece of Paper’ that makes this point very clear.

Bullying CloudI was bullied daily from age 7 to 13 and then just a little more when I was 14. I was lucky, because we moved when I was 13 and, for the most part, I left the bullies behind me. I could start anew. But the damage of what we call our growing years, from 5-18, was done. It would still take me a while to learn this though. By the time I was 13, bullying had made me angry, depressed, and my self-esteem was nearly gone. I hung out with the wrong crowd and am not proud of many of the things I did during this time so that this group of people would be ‘my friends’. But it wasn’t all bad in that I had a good family life and teachers that cared and mentored me.

When I finally moved away, I made a conscious decision at 14 to stay low and not make any waves at school or to ‘be myself’ with people. I was hardened by my experience. But luckily for me, I found a new teacher/mentor and group of friends in the High School Drama Department. By the time I graduated from High School, I thought that I had put those bullying years behind me. I had a great time in High School and then in College. These were great years and I had great friends and learned to be myself again.

But being myself had a price. Much like the crumpled piece of paper I mentioned earlier, there were repressed scars that were still there. The first time it manifested itself was at the end of college during one of my final exams. As I started to take it, I grew sweaty, my heart started racing, and my eyes wouldn’t focus. I was having a panic attack and I knew the feeling. It was the same feeling I had when the bullies would surround me. The fight or flight feeling that comes with feeling threatened. I didn’t know it at the time, but I ran from the room to the bathroom. It finally went away and the professor let me finish the test.

For the next several years I suffered from unexpected and unexplained panic attacks and anxiety at times of stress. I didn’t know at the time the major correlation between youth bullying and adult anxiety and depression issues like these. But I would soon learn more than I wanted to. I must admit that there was a string of very good years where my self-esteem was high and I had a wife and children to care for. During this time, I suffered little from anxiety and panic. But I did have some strange habits, like not liking crowded places, needing to sit on the aisle in theaters, and just some discomfort. I didn’t realize the claustrophobia that was closing in with depression as well. Then, seven years ago, I realized as a web writer that I wanted to make a difference and share my youth bullying stories with others on the web to try to help people realize they weren’t alone. I created a website called ‘Bullying Stories: Dealing with the Long-Term Effects of Bullying’.

I shared my stories and had other people share theirs as well. I did research and became an anti-bullying activist. I certainly don’t want to say this triggered something in me to start to relive my bullying years, but at a point in time a few years after I started the website, my panic attacks came back and my anxiety was through the roof. This put me in a tailspin that ended with me in a depression and I didn’t understand why. At the time, I didn’t understand ‘the crumpled piece of paper’ or the C-PTSD that I would soon learn can happen from childhood trauma. I was lucky, though, that I knew medical professionals from working as an anti-bullying activist. They helped me help myself. I read tons of books, articles, and learned all I could about my situation. I learned that, for me, there will be good periods of time and bad periods of time and that I could learn how to deal with the bad periods of time. I learned to change my life for the better by:

  • Eating a healthier diet that would feed both my body and brain better
  • Working out at a gym to de-stress and release energy that was building up in me
  • Journaling about my feelings and the way I was thinking to learn to turn negatives into positives
  • Talking to people about what I went through as a child and what I was going through now
  • Doing Yoga and Meditation to learn to be mindful and relax my brain
  • Reading positive affirmations to help my mind think more positively

I could go on, but we are all different and what works for one doesn’t always work for others. Some people choose medication and therapy. Some do not. It takes all my strength to motivate myself some days to keep doing the work I know helps me feel better. My new motto is to ‘never quit’ and that it does and will get better. But there will be peaks and valleys in my life and I always need to be conscious of the valleys and know I can climb back up.

I keep a reminder at my desk now to try to remember what I have learned. It is a framed saying attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.” I always like to add at the end that is why today is called the Present. Because it is a present given to me. You can’t change the past and can’t predict the future, so why not just live for today.

So, she asked me, “How did you recover from the bullying you experienced as a youth?”

My answer is, I’ll let you know when I figure it out myself. But for now I know that life is what you make it and I am trying to make mine the best it can be. Every day is a new day and a good day to be alive…and that is how I have learned to cope, not necessarily recover from bullying.

~Alan Eisenberg

Time for Three

There is a group of musicians making a difference in the anti-bullying community. Time For Three, a group of three classical musicians has recently released “Stronger”, a video and song about the power of music education to help those that have been bullied recover. This is becoming prevalent in the music community and I know that music helped me so much during my time dealing with bullies. Although I could never play an instrument well, I always listed to music and found the lyrics so helpful and the music able to change my way of thinking. So, without further ado, here is Time For Three and “Stronger”.

Finding the Positives in a Tough Situation

Things to RememberThe internet brings many things to the victim of bullying. Many will say it has several negative parts, such as cyberbullying and online harassment. But there is a side that has been a saving grace to a victim of bullying.

I am referring to the Positive Affirmation sites that are out there. Besides the two biggest things you can do to yourself if you are feeling bad due to bullying, which is to exercise (due to the release of both stress and endorphinens) and eating a good balanced diet (your brain is fed as well as your body), working to change the negatives in your mind to find peace and positivity is a strong helper as well.

Personally, I find that sites like Tiny Buddha and Lessons Learned In Life as well as the app you can get for meditation called “CALM” are all extremely helpful for me. Let me be clear that none of those sites or apps pay me. I just found that they help me so much. For example, here was an excellent quote on Lessons Learned in Life.

One of the most courageous decisions you will ever make is to finally let go of whatever is hurting your heart and soul.

~Brigitte Nicole

Another one I like from there is:

Understand your absolute importance. Press that send button. Say how you feel. If you don’t say it now, you never will. Do not sneer at happiness or roll your eyes at sadness. Be aware that apathy is not healthy. That pit in your stomach when they don’t call or text you back, it shouldn’t be there. No one should be able to control you like that. It will get better, but it will never be perfect. The trick is to learn to live through the small moments of happiness. When they disappear, remember they will resurface. Please, please, take care of yourself. You are everything to somebody. You are everything to yourself. That alone is enough. That alone is everything!

These are just two. You can subscribe and have them send messages each day to help you. The CALM app has 2, 5, and 10 minute meditations that help your mind think positively. I share because it works for me and the CALM app was actually featured on the TODAY show the other week. Sometimes it just takes the effort of finding some time for positive thinking. We all have peaks and valley’s in life and it’s when we are in our valleys that we need some positive thinking to help us climb back up.

I hope that you find things that help comfort you and help you think more positively through the hard times. If you do have other places you visit on the web or other apps to share, please do in your comments to this post. I would love to hear what others use to find comfort at the hard times.