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Stan’s Stuff – Dousing the flames of hate.

By Stan Stewart.

I’m having disturbed nights. Wakefulness. That terrible suffering in Gaza. Why did Hamas attack and rampage like they did? The children, the babies, the parents, the young soldiers on both sides. How will this end? How can this end? Is any kind of healing possible? So much hurt. So much hate.

When I was a kid, I was taught to hate. It was one of the things you did. Born in 1937, I was in an Australian rural primary school from 1942 onward. As well as English and arithmetic, we were taught to hate the Germans and the Japanese

My Dad also taught me about hating certain people. He worked on the Melbourne wharves. The large labour force was unofficially divided into two groups – Catholics and Protestants. When Dad worked there, the Catholics had the upper hand. This meant they controlled the rosters, the job allocation, and access to loot. Loot was the goods and appliances that came from accidentally (?) broken crates and packaging (no steel containers then). People who challenged the rule of the Catholics often had unfortunate accidents. According to Dad, there had been one death – a Protestant labourer fell(?) from the deck of a ship to the bottom of a hold. Dad being a born-again Christian, also hated them for the way the Roman Catholics screwed up the Bible and claimed Jesus as one of their own, when everyone knew he was a Baptist.

Small wonder that at eight years of age, I was part of a gang of Protestant children who waited in the bushes to ambush Catholic children on their way home from school. We would throw stones at them and chant disgusting rhymes. We had been taught how to hate and we were good at it.

Now, I don’t think I hate anyone. Perhaps that sounds boastful, but as far as I understand myself, it is the truth. I don’t understand the depth and details of other faiths, philosophies, mindfulness etc.. However, I respect all practices which help individuals find a centre in their lives and to live at peace with others.

How did I change? Why did I change? How is it that I gave ‘hate’ the boot in my life. I think it was to do with some people I met along the way. I think of a Catholic nun I worked with. She was a dream to work with and I knew her calm, warm spirit had something to do with her faith. For years, we had home-stays from Saudi Arabia – one female and six young men (one at a time). I liked those young people. I am still in touch with some of them. I shared music with young people from Indonesia – mostly Muslim young people. We exchange notes frequently. I don’t need to understand their faith to feel warmly towards them. I am so glad they came into our life.

It has occurred to me that we, here in Whitianga, can play a part in working for a more peaceful world. The antidote to hate is understanding friendship. In my short time here on the Coromandel, I have heard several stories about friendships between local people and homestay foreign students. I have been told that years ago, there was some reserve and hesitancy in respect to reaching out to foreign students. Individuals tell me that this has now dissipated and that through homestays and social contacts, a real welcome is extended, and friendships are blossoming.

Some may say, “So what? How does this help combat the hate which now engulfs the Middle East and beyond? Immediately, it does not. But I am thinking of the future. These young people who walk our streets and play on our beaches now, who will they become?

Jack Ma lived in the Hangzou region of China. His family had neither wealth nor privilege. However, as a teen, Jack was keen to learn English and the way he did this was to ask English speaking tourists to talk to him. One day he made a very positive contact with an Australian family. This led to a real friendship and eventuated in a homestay in Australia. Jack says that homestay changed his life. Jack Ma went on to set up a retail company, Alibaba which is now bigger than Amazon.

My point is just this. When we befriend a young person from another country, we have no idea who that young person may become. Nor can we gauge the value our friendship might have for them. In a world inflamed by hate, our young friend, because of our friendship, may become a person who in another place in a future time, works to douse these flames.

Young people from around the world want to visit us. Our beaches and scenic wonders are a gift for them. Welcome and friendship are even more valuable gifts.

 |  The Informer  | 

By Stan Stewart.

I’m having disturbed nights. Wakefulness. That terrible suffering in Gaza. Why did Hamas attack and rampage like they did? The children, the babies, the parents, the young soldiers on both sides. How will this end? How can this end? Is any kind of healing possible? So much hurt. So much hate.

When I was a kid, I was taught to hate. It was one of the things you did. Born in 1937, I was in an Australian rural primary school from 1942 onward. As well as English and arithmetic, we were taught to hate the Germans and the Japanese

My Dad also taught me about hating certain people. He worked on the Melbourne wharves. The large labour force was unofficially divided into two groups – Catholics and Protestants. When Dad worked there, the Catholics had the upper hand. This meant they controlled the rosters, the job allocation, and access to loot. Loot was the goods and appliances that came from accidentally (?) broken crates and packaging (no steel containers then). People who challenged the rule of the Catholics often had unfortunate accidents. According to Dad, there had been one death – a Protestant labourer fell(?) from the deck of a ship to the bottom of a hold. Dad being a born-again Christian, also hated them for the way the Roman Catholics screwed up the Bible and claimed Jesus as one of their own, when everyone knew he was a Baptist.

Small wonder that at eight years of age, I was part of a gang of Protestant children who waited in the bushes to ambush Catholic children on their way home from school. We would throw stones at them and chant disgusting rhymes. We had been taught how to hate and we were good at it.

Now, I don’t think I hate anyone. Perhaps that sounds boastful, but as far as I understand myself, it is the truth. I don’t understand the depth and details of other faiths, philosophies, mindfulness etc.. However, I respect all practices which help individuals find a centre in their lives and to live at peace with others.

How did I change? Why did I change? How is it that I gave ‘hate’ the boot in my life. I think it was to do with some people I met along the way. I think of a Catholic nun I worked with. She was a dream to work with and I knew her calm, warm spirit had something to do with her faith. For years, we had home-stays from Saudi Arabia – one female and six young men (one at a time). I liked those young people. I am still in touch with some of them. I shared music with young people from Indonesia – mostly Muslim young people. We exchange notes frequently. I don’t need to understand their faith to feel warmly towards them. I am so glad they came into our life.

It has occurred to me that we, here in Whitianga, can play a part in working for a more peaceful world. The antidote to hate is understanding friendship. In my short time here on the Coromandel, I have heard several stories about friendships between local people and homestay foreign students. I have been told that years ago, there was some reserve and hesitancy in respect to reaching out to foreign students. Individuals tell me that this has now dissipated and that through homestays and social contacts, a real welcome is extended, and friendships are blossoming.

Some may say, “So what? How does this help combat the hate which now engulfs the Middle East and beyond? Immediately, it does not. But I am thinking of the future. These young people who walk our streets and play on our beaches now, who will they become?

Jack Ma lived in the Hangzou region of China. His family had neither wealth nor privilege. However, as a teen, Jack was keen to learn English and the way he did this was to ask English speaking tourists to talk to him. One day he made a very positive contact with an Australian family. This led to a real friendship and eventuated in a homestay in Australia. Jack says that homestay changed his life. Jack Ma went on to set up a retail company, Alibaba which is now bigger than Amazon.

My point is just this. When we befriend a young person from another country, we have no idea who that young person may become. Nor can we gauge the value our friendship might have for them. In a world inflamed by hate, our young friend, because of our friendship, may become a person who in another place in a future time, works to douse these flames.

Young people from around the world want to visit us. Our beaches and scenic wonders are a gift for them. Welcome and friendship are even more valuable gifts.