Friday, May 16, 2014

A Kinder, Gentler World

Much Respect and Props to Hershey High students for this bold initiative!  
[See below article for details]

Spreading Awareness and Education are the key to ending Bullying and increasing Sensitivity and Tolerance toward others. Our similarities as human beings are stronger than our superficial differences! Expressing the benefits of "Inclusion" through creativity and art is an effective means to teach others and spread awareness in a non-threatening manner. Often the effects of being "preached to" yield unintended results and resistance, especially in the teenage population who are typically hostile and rebellious toward direct authoritarian methods of [re]direction. This "hands-on" approach is inclusive and experiential as students participate in and focus on a shared activity with a common goal. I hope that more schools and programs will follow suit with similar initiatives to address issues related to social diversity and exclusive thinking such as intolerance, hatred, prejudice, bullying, racism, equal rights, immigration, poverty stigma, socio-economics (class discrimination) and other such forms of discrimination. Because prejudice and discrimination are acquired beliefs and behavior respectively, based on "Us vs Them" thinking and fueled by learned stereotypes, we must begin by addressing the misinformation. We must attack the problem at its source, replacing the underlying Ignorance and Fear that foster an attitude of EXclusion, with Education, Awareness and Tolerance to change core thinking and foster an attitude of INclusion. There is no better way to change negative thoughts to positive, than by creating positive experiences that challenge and counter old thoughts and behaviors. Learning through personal experience, replacing ignorance with hands-on knowledge, paired with Cognitive Restructuring through role-playing and repetition, is our most effective tool to Unlearn fear-based thoughts and assumptions. 

Perhaps a kinder, gentler world, united in peace and our common humanity, is indeed a possibility for future generations. 

~ Lisa Pearlman  5/16/14              

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