DEAR READERS: If you have been reading this column for the last two days, you will have seen that racism is an issue that troubles many of us. Today will be my last in this series.
DEAR ABBY: You can't teach your children to be on the defensive, as one of your black readers wrote, without having these children LOOKING for discrimination. A basic law of physics teaches us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In life, sometimes there's an overreaction. Our best defenses against discrimination are education, patience, understanding and time. And remember, we educate our children every day, by our words, our deeds, our values -- and most of all -- by our thoughts. -- ANDERSON, S.C., READER
DEAR READER: That's true. Children form their attitudes by watching their parents -- often when the parents don't realize they are being watched. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I am a bus driver and have had the opportunity to meet white racists and black racists -- and believe me, there are both.
The vast majority of people are not prejudiced. They are cautious, as well they should be. The whites, blacks, reds and yellows mostly want to just be accepted as another person on this planet.
We aren't going to become color-blind, ethnic-blind or religious-blind just by snapping our fingers and passing a couple of laws. We can only control ourselves, and hope that our own attitude will rub off on those around us. May God have mercy on us if this attitude isn't one of love. -- PROUD MINNESOTAN
DEAR ABBY: Martin Luther King Jr. once said: "People don't get along because they fear each other. People fear each other because they don't know each other. They don't know each other because they have not properly communicated with each other."
We must begin to communicate with each other. No matter how much it hurts or how bad it sounds, we must begin the dialogue of truth, facts, feelings, misunderstanding and understanding. The solutions to all our problems are found in us.
Now is the time to make the decisions necessary to bring about closure and healing. The survival of our nation depends on it. In our homes, at work, at school and in our everyday lives, we must be about destroying the hate that is destroying America. We can never heal the hurt and pain within our nation until we've healed the hurt and pain within ourselves. Removing racism and discrimination from our society must begin with one person at a time. It must start with me -- then with you. -- LARRY D. HARRIS, NORFOLK, VA.
DEAR ABBY: The world is a vastly different place than it once was, although the vestiges of our past remain. The only way to end racism in our society is for each individual to take responsibility for his or her own emotions and actions, and to act in a way that is fair to all concerned. You can find hate in a lot of places -- sometimes without looking very hard. But you can also find friends. -- MICHELLE IN GALVESTON, TEXAS
DEAR MICHELLE: I agree. Regardless of skin color or ethnicity, our aspirations are very similar. We want to be liked and respected as individuals; we want our children to do as well or better than we have. It's the American Dream.
We live in an increasingly diverse society, and if we can value each other and live in harmony it will greatly enrich us. If we cannot, then greed and suspicion will drive us apart. The choice is ours.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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