2012 Hours Against Hate: The True Olympic Spirit

Posted by Benjamin Baird
July 29, 2012

"All that matters in the race is the amount of training each person has been putting into the event and how fast they go on that day," says U.S. Paralympics gold medalist Josh George.

George, along with other U.S. Paralympians, is teaming up with the U.S. State Department to take part in the 2012 Hours Against Hate campaign. The Olympic-inspired campaign's goal is to use sport as a catalyst to change perceptions.

"The first person to cross the finish line is the winner. It doesn't matter whether they believe something differently than I do, whether they have different sexual preferences than me, whether their skin color's different. None of that matters."

Despite his Paralympian physical abilities, George still gets treated differently because he uses a wheelchair.

"I have had to deal with a lot of ignorance. I have been judged, and had my abilities and capabilities judge based purely on the fact that I am in a wheel chair," he says. "This type of ignorance and lack of knowledge is often a breeding ground for hate. It is much easier to dislike something you don't understand then to take the time to learn about it."

That's the kind of thinking that the 2012 Hours Against Hate is seeking to change.

"For the one-billion disabled people around the world, hatred is an all too common experience," says U.S. State Department Special Advisor for International Disability Rights Judith Heumann. "It can take many forms including verbal or physical abuse, being denied a job or education because of one's disability, being shut out of public spaces because of physical or communications barriers, and being shunned or ignored by people who are simply afraid of people who do not look, sound, move, think or act like them."

The program asks folks to take an hour out of their week to learn something new about other cultures, abilities, or lifestyles.

"Anytime that you can spend reaching out to people who do not look like you, live like you, love like you, or pray like you will help to build a society where we are all valued and respected for who we are," says Heumann.

Heumann says the program's goals are especially achievable during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"These games demonstrate how sport is a powerful tool to connect people and community and foster understanding."For more information, follow U.S. Embassy London on Facebook and Twitter and follow the 2012 Hours Against Hate initiative on Facebook and Twitter.Editor's Note: This entry appeared first on the U.S. Embassy in London's blog.

Comments

Comments

Anthony W.
|
South Carolina, USA
July 31, 2012

Anthony W. in South Carolina writes:

I have had the privilege of being able to hide my scars for over 50yrs but I cannot hide the fact of regreting having to do so. And at time the pain that is associated with 3rd degree burns but I have learned to show my scars to remind others of how well they have it. Its very hard when you are young and it gets easier as you get older and with over 60% of my body cover with scars I am proud that I have had a successful career and I still have things to accomplish and I guess this is part of it. Don't count me out our that would be your mistake because I am a overcomer along with most people with disabilities.I've just been privlege to be able to hide mine except a limp at times.

Brian
|
France
July 31, 2012

Brian in France writes:

You'r idea is noble but naive ,don't get offended please it is a good effort to try to make people understand each other.

But if you want to see how rasist and nasty people are, come in Champigny Sur Marne, where even the police are rasist aginst Americans.

Some cultures don't want to learn about the others they don't care about other cultures because for them if your not like them you should be dead, its sad but true.

Even I who am a Native American, I've been agressed, insulted and called rasist names by one ethnic population.

So my suggestion is instead of starting this program go into places like Champigny and see how the people act but don't let the press know or you will see people acting false.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and hope it helps you.

.

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