September 2002
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Hate Starts With Self
By Matthew Higdon, Age 17, Cape Breton, NS

I've been around and felt hate at various levels of intensity at various points in my life. In school, a lot of people keep themselves entertained by messing with the emotions of others around them. Most of this "teasing" takes place on a racial/cultural level: lashing out with cruel slurs or picking on an individual because of his ethnicity, looks, religion.

Hate and racial tension in this province is a grave problem. Let me share my experience this summer with you.

I took a job in Halifax over the summer. That's where I was surrounded by jerks who would torment anyone they believed to be different from themselves. I met my friend Matt there. Matt was the only African Canadian working in our section of the store - shipping and receiving. He was new to Halifax and Nova Scotia and we began going for coffee together, taking in a movie and just hanging out. One day as we walked out to the parking lot a group of guys who worked in the store rode past us and called him a filthy n--r. As well on numerous occasions they called me a n--r lover. I also remember being stared at with piercing looks of hate almost daily because of my baggy clothes I wore.

This experience disburbed me greatly. Why? Because I was once one of those 'jerks', those ignorant people. People who dealt with their pain by inflicting pain on others. The pain and rage that comes from, in my view, supressed emotional issues. As a young boy I dealt with a lot of pain over being overweight and uncoordinated. Whenever I saw another fat kid, I instantly felt an intense hate for him and lashed out to hide my own inadequacies. When I watched a movie with the oh-so-common fat boy making a fool of himself throughout the film, I looked at him and hated him as if he were me.

Kids who tease and bully others have fallen into the habit of taking the temporary emotional shortcut to rage. It's easy to hate what makes us uncomfortable rather than struggling to understand and embrace it. Understanding my own emotional turmoil changed my life.

But this does not even come close to excusing hate, or violently acting upon prejudices that completely contradict the essence of life. We are all human and with the right amount of effort, we are all capable of change. There is no excuse for hate! There is no excuse for racism! There is no excuse for bullying!

Websites on bullying:
CBC News Feature on Bullying

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