At the Unity Rally at Point State Park in Pittsburgh, I made a public pledge to eliminate the H word from my vocabulary. It is a four-letter obscenity, whose use can inflame conversation into acts of violence. By toning down our H-ful rhetoric, we lessen the possible escalation into violence, and perhaps begin to respect and appreciate the people around us.
I have come to realize that despite the simplicity of this conscious choice of language, unless the framework for a multi-million-dollar media blitz takes hold, it is unlikely that this one person’s response to the horror of October 27, 2018 will gain much traction. If we were to examine more closely the root causes of H speech, lack of understanding of our neighbors weighs heavily. It leads to mistrust and loathing, which leads to fear, which, as Yoda so beautifully states it, leads to H, which ultimately leads to the dark side. But how to bridge this gap?
I offer for public conversation STREAM education: Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. When we understand the religion of our neighbors, we grow in respect and appreciation for the beauty of their practices. Learning about other religions does not mean children will be converted or brainwashed – in fact parents should be welcome – but they will gain in understanding of their neighbors. Children will learn that we are more alike than different. Schools must be encouraged to provide the tools for our children to be successful citizens, not merely in their chosen professions, but as productive participants in our democratic society. A modest footbridge can grow into a multi-lane bridge, and Pittsburgh certainly demonstrates to the country that we build bridges to unite people. By gaining understanding and recognizing commonalities, we are able to identify the areas that need improvement and work on them together. We can achieve more for the common good of our neighborhoods, cities, and society as a whole. We might even be able to eradicate H speech! It’s time to expand the conversation.