This secondary assembly looks at the negative effects of hatred with reference to the Holocaust Memorial Day, Tuesday 27th January, the theme of which was, “Stand up to hatred!”

Resources

  • 2 Readers
  • Suggested OHP display of the words “STAND UP TO HATRED!”

Engagement

Reader 1: Hate is a feeling…
Reader 2:…that leads to an emotion…
Reader 1:…that sometimes turns into aggression…
Reader 2:…that sometimes turns into acts of violence….. [Pause]

Leader: How many times do you think you use the word ‘hate’ in one day? [Pause] Here are some casual ways you might use it:

Reader 1: I hate walking to school in the rain.
Reader 2: I hate sprouts!
Reader 1: I hate having to do homework!
Reader 2: I hate my brother! [Pause]

Leader: Sometimes the word ‘hate’ has more sinister overtones:

Reader 1: (looking ‘off stage’) I hate her/him. She/He’s always going on about how many things she/he bought at the weekend.
Reader 2: I know. I hate her/him too. I’m tired to listening to it.
Reader 1: And I hate the way she/he looks.
Reader 2: I hate everything about her/him.
Reader 1: Let’s get her/him after school!

Imagine how our world might appear to an alien if he arrived on the earth, invisible, and had a casual look around. What might he notice as being a major feature of the way we relate to each other? [Pause]

Hopefully, after noticing how beautiful the world is, he might see that we treat each other well most of the time. The truth is, however, he might notice that there’s a large amount of conflict too. We live in a world where we sometimes seem to be surrounded by hate and violence. Sometimes we even watch violent films and play violent games for entertainment! Whenever we turn on the news we often see pictures of people injured and killed by the violent actions of man against man. These actions are fuelled by hate.

Reflection

When Soviet soldiers liberated Auschwitz on 27th January 1945, they only found 7,500 survivors, but approximately 1.1 men, women and children were murdered there during its six years as a Nazi concentration camp. During World War II, more than 6 million people were killed by the Nazis in Germany, but it’s now thought that possibly as many as 5 million more people may have been killed. This terrible time is usually referred to as ‘The Holocaust’. Some people believe it was the result of German people being jealous of the efficiency of Jewish business in Germany at the time. Perhaps fear was also involved. And so, what perhaps started as an impulse of jealousy and fear ended in a chain of hate that resulted in one of the worse atrocities that man has ever inflicted on man.

Since 2001, the 27th of January has also been marked in the UK as a day of remembrance for all victims of genocide. There have been many atrocities since 1945, including 1 million Rwandans massacred in 1994 and 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. The list, unfortunately, continues today. It has been estimated that, in 2007-8, there were around 40,000 hate crimes committed in the UK. Not all of these ended in death, but they certainly involved violent acts against other people that started with the expression of hate.

Often people justify aggressive acts by suggesting that the people they are being violent towards ‘started’ the action – and that it’s therefore necessary to counteract their behaviour with more hateful acts. Hate, it seems, promotes more hate. Perhaps later you’d like to discuss whether murder is ever justified. [Pause] Many people believe that it is sometimes – even though the beliefs of every religion in the world reject this idea.

When 27th January was remembered as ‘Holocaust Memorial Day’ last week, the special theme for the day this year was, “Stand up to Hatred!” How easy is it to stand up to hatred? [Pause] Is it possible? Many people do take a stand against it – from religious prophets to ordinary people. One person who ‘stood up’ to the hate in the world by speaking out publically within the last 50 years was Martin Luther King. Another was Sister Theresa. There are very many more that had the courage to do so and they all helped to change the course of history for the better.

There is an expression: ‘There’s a thin line between love and hate’. Scientists who’ve studied human behaviour have recently discovered that this is actually true. The areas of our brain that deal with love and hate are very close together. The area that rules the emotion of ‘hate’ is the same area that makes us want to run away from danger or defend ourselves against something we experience as negative. Perhaps that explains why sprouts and a really dangerous enemy might sometimes have the same word – ‘hate’ – associated with them! However, joking apart, if we could all do our bit to stand up and speak out against hatred against others, or when we see the terrible consequences of hate, we could all begin to change the world a little.

Response

We’ve all had that feeling that wells up inside us when we don’t like something − sometimes when we’re not expecting it. Even babies express their dislike of certain situations, by screaming or crying. The feeling can start with anything that we have a negative reaction to. Sometimes there seems to be little logic as to why we have the reaction and sometimes, if we don’t check our emotions, negative feelings can turn into aggressive behaviour. Hopefully, as we grow up, we learn to control the feeling before it turns into violence.

Do you think it might be possible to stand up against hatred, in a small way, by stopping ourselves from using the word ‘hate’ as much as we do – particularly when we speak about other people? The actors at the beginning of this assembly were expressing their dislike about someone and, by voicing it, the dislike was quickly growing into an expression of ‘hate’ that could have result in violent behaviour − either verbally or physically towards the person. If you’d heard the conversation, would you have done anything to prevent it from happening? Sometimes it seems as if we worry about being thought of as ‘soft’ if we were to speak up against hatred. Does anyone mention the word ‘love’ as many times as they mention the word ‘hate’ in one day? [Pause]

Hopefully nothing as extreme as the genocide that occurred in Germany in the Second World War will ever happen again, but we can all take small steps to help stamp out hatred. The following is a quote from Martin Luther King, a leader who worked tirelessly for the rights of black people, and tried to highlight, and therefore prevent, the senseless violent acts against them:

Reader 1: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies…
Reader 2:…but the silence of our friends.”

(Amen)

This e-bulletin issue was first published in February 2009

About the author: Jaki Miles-Windmill

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