Tonight: Tune into PBS for a Powerful Story About Stopping Hate Crimes in Your Community
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Humans. What a species. Wouldn’t we be better off if we started every conversation about social, political, economic or moral issues acknowledging what a goofy and messy bundle of contradictions we are? Individually and collectively.
We say we’re for peace, but we celebrate and wage war after war. War aside, humans are routinely violent to each other—very often to those we love most. We acclaim and protect nature, except when we routinely destroy and abuse it.
We are all migrants, even if some of us only moved from Ohio to Arizona or from a city to a suburb. Throughout human history our species has liked to move around. We all want to be able to go wherever we want, whenever we want. We call that freedom. But apparently many of us seriously want to control where other people go. So we build walls and boundaries and authorize violence against various kinds of “trespassers.”
We commit unspeakable torture against other members of our species. And we risk our lives to come to the aid and defense of complete strangers. We invent concepts and constructs like individualism and “family” values and “community” and then pit them against each other, instead of making each support the others.
We create religions and the moral codes that come with them. But religion itself has been a major enabler of slavery, war, economic systems that worship greed and all manner of other things the codes say are immoral. How weird is that? Speaking of weird, the best news on television in the United States is on Comedy Central.
The contradictions list goes on and on. You could make up your own. You might find doing so time well spent. It’s a way to put in perspective some of the struggles we face as individuals and as a society that come with the human condition.
Which brings me to why watching Light In The Darkness on PBS at 10pm on Wednesday, Sept. 21 is time well spent. It is about decisions, actions and events that followed a murder by young white men who set out to hunt “beaners” in Patchogue, Long Island. They killed Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian who had lived peacefully and legally in Patchogue for 13 years.
Light in the Darkness is the third in a series reaching back 15 years. Each film has documented how people came together to turn expressions of hate in their town into a positive event to build safety, security and connection. Real-life tales of good offsetting evil. Imagine that.
We need such stories. The organization documenting them is called Not In Our Town (NIOT). You can find out more about NIOT and its new film, Light in the Darkness at NIOT.org. But whether you do that or not—watch the movie. Wednesday night. You won’t be sorry. You will probably be inspired.
Frank Joyce chairs the board of The Working Group, which sponsors Not In Our Town. He appears weekly, Sundays at 3pm, on Dave Marsh’s Land of Hopes and Dreams, on Sirius Radio, channel 127.