OP-ED: The Virus We Really Need To Eradicate – Hatred

Life coach and public speaker Alison Jacobson adds her personal take on recent events that have inspired GOOD Morning Wilton‘s “NO Place for Hate Campaign.”

In this age of a 24/7 news cycle, yesterday’s headlines are forgotten very quickly. Sure, sometimes this is a good thing, but when it comes to issues such as bullying and hate crimes it’s imperative that they stay top of mind.

At the beginning of the school year, three swastikas (two confirmed as recent, one said to be ‘old’) were discovered etched onto a locker and doors at Wilton High School. An arrest was made after the first swastika was found but, to the best of my knowledge, there were no arrests made nor any further information provided after the second and third were discovered. It also seems that swastikas in the high school aren’t new but for some reason they only recently have been discovered.

It was an opportune time for a presentation regarding the Holocaust specifically and hate crimes in general to be given at the schools. Even a presentation at the library for adults would have been worthwhile. But the only requirement was a lesson on “symbolism” by the teachers, a far cry from teaching about hatred and intolerance. Sadly, the incident vanished off of our collective radar screen as other issues such as the Miller Driscoll renovation, Sensible Wilton, and massage parlor prostitution heated up.

But last Friday, Nov. 21, the incident came flooding back into my memory. I received an e-mail from the principal of Ridgefield High School, where my step-daughter is a student, that two swastikas were found spray painted on the high school campus. Once again the feelings of anger, disgust and sadness came flooding back to me. A few days later, I asked my step-daughter if anything had been mentioned to students by her teachers. Once again, a teachable moment to discuss intolerance and hate crimes presented itself. But nothing was said.

A copycat incident? Maybe. But it’s pure hatred regardless. It’s as bad as any disease – and make no mistake – it is indeed a disease that needs to be eradicated. Intolerance based on race, religion or sexuality is, unfortunately, contagious. It’s spreading rapidly thanks to the anonymity of social media. Sadly, it’s most likely a disease that’s hereditary. But there is a vaccination against it – the collective response of our community to send a clear message that hatred and intolerance of any kind is not acceptable in Wilton.

There are incredible programs already in place in our community to promote inclusion but more can and must be done. In every situation where we see bullying, bigotry and intolerance we need to speak out. Community conversations need to take place in homes, schools, places of worship and other gathering spots. Together we can make Wilton a town that’s symptom-free of hatred once and for all.

Wilton resident Alison Jacobson is a motivational speaker and life coach who works with women to break through their fears to rediscover their passion and live a confident, fulfilling and successful life. You can find out more at her website, alisonjacobson.net.