Today, he came home and said he hated them and proceeded to make a comment about their ethnicity. (Which is NOT something I condone or allow in my home.) I could have simply punished him and sent him to his room. But would he really LEARN anything that way? He may have learned to keep his mouth shut around his parents, but that really wouldn't address the problem with his thought process, or teach him that it is never okay to judge someone because they are different than he is. It's okay to dislike someone because they are mean. It is okay to dislike someone because they treat others poorly. But it is NEVER okay to base an opinion on something like race, religion, ethnicity, appearance, size, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or social class.
So instead of yelling, I sat him down for a talk. I asked him WHY he felt the need to include a comment about these boys' races when he was complaining about their bullying. He told me "Mom, I don't like this particular group of people because all 3 boys are part of that group and they're mean to me." (I am purposely leaving the specific group out, as I do not feel it is relevant.) So I asked him if everyone in that group is mean, or if it's just these 3 boys...He stopped and thought, and then told me it was mostly just those boys. I explained to him that you cannot judge an entire race or ethnicity based on the actions of few.
He looked confused and said, "Mom, why does it matter if I hate them? I am just one person, and hate isn't that powerful from one person, anyway."
It made me sad that he felt this way, and I proceeded to tell him a story about how one person's hatred caused the death of (at least) 6,000,000 innocent people. Men, women, and children alike lost their lives and were brutally tortured because ONE MAN decided he didn't like them. I am sure you know the story I am talking about, as it is one of the saddest in recent history. I told my 5th grade son all about the Holocaust, and how 6 MILLION Jewish people were taken forcibly from their homes and sent to concentration camps....How children were ripped from their parents and were forced to work....How these poor people were starved, beaten, shot, gassed, and worked to death....How "doctors" (and I use that term very loosely, as the first and foremost oath of a doctor is to DO NO HARM) performed sadistic experiments on these people....All because they were Jewish, and because ONE MAN, Adolph Hitler, decided he hated the Jews. All because they chose to worship God differently than HE did. Personally, I don't think God cares in what form He is worshiped and I do not feel that any "holy war" is condoned by God. We are all God's children, and no God of mine would mandate the slaughter of any of His sons or daughters.
I even showed him a YouTube video about the Holocaust, so he could see what the hate of one person could do. I watched the tears well up in my 11 year old's eyes as he saw photos of the emaciated people in the concentration camps and photos of the mass graves and the gas chambers....My son was visibly shaken, and he was angry. He was angry that so many innocent people lost their lives. He was angry that anyone would DO such a thing! And he was even angrier when I told him that this atrocity is something that still happens to this day in other countries, but on a smaller scale. He finally understood what ONE PERSON'S HATE has the power to do....
He then asked me these questions:
"Why would God let this happen? Why would God let the Nazis kill so many Jews? If God is real, why didn't He send a miracle?"
This is what I told him:
"God DID send a miracle. The miracle is that ANY of them LIVED."
Lesson learned. Let's stop the hate and love each other. You're not always going to like everyone you meet. But lets not judge based on things we cannot change. Even if we're different, we're all human beings, and all created equal in God's eyes.