You’ve Got To Be Taught

ELIZABETH BANFALVI

Many years ago, I saw the movie South Pacific. It was about American sailors and medical staff that were on a south Pacific Island in the war. It was a love story for a sailor and a nurse. It had the most beautiful musical score. Its story contained the fact that even though the characters fell in love with the islands’ people, they couldn’t stay with them because their beliefs wouldn’t let them. One song in particular said it all and was sung by the sailor. Its name was “You’ve got to be taught”.

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear

You’ve got to be taught from year to year

It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear

You’ve got to be carefully taught

How powerful these words were and how controversial the theme of the movie was. Rodgers and Hammerstein were at the top of their game at the time. They wrote beautiful and powerful songs and they were featured in many musicals and are still on Broadway.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid

Of people whose eyes are oddly made

And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade

You’ve got to be carefully taught

The words are simple but it says it all. Being different is what we are taught to see. We weren’t born to see the differences but to feel the emotions that are going through us.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late

Before you are 6 or 7 or 8

To hate all the people your relatives hate

You’ve got to be carefully taught

We are taught who to hate and who to love and trust. Does that work? Has it worked? Abuse usually comes more from family members than from strangers.

Racism is all about what we have been taught. Racism stems from fear and a lack of knowing yourself and accepting others. It has been with us forever. So, when are we going to learn to let it go? Does it work? Does it give us the love and acceptance we want?

I, as a woman, have known a form of racism because I am a woman. I didn’t do anything wrong but I was shown a lack of acceptance and many times was treated badly in different jobs. It didn’t stop and I didn’t need to do anything to keep it going. I retired and I had to be in contact with this person and still it was the same even after 5 years.

All of the history with the Indigenous people and the residential schools are a huge way of telling us what racism is all about. The native children had to be taught to behave like we wanted them to and leave their own upbringing behind. We have all come to this country so who was the expert on what this country was about? Why did this happen? Why did we hand these children over to the churches who we thought we can trust to do the best job?

This movie was filmed in 1958 and it is still the same – different people but the same actions. People reacted to this movie but that is because they didn’t like the message it was showing. The young sailor sang this song because he had been taught he couldn’t bring home his island love to his family. He ended up by being killed in war before he left the island. The other love story was resolved finally and she stayed.

We don’t have a right to hurt others just because they are Chinese and they supposedly started this virus or the fact that they are Muslim and they are walking with their family on the sidewalk. Hate isn’t an excuse – it is a problem. Ask yourself if somebody hated you enough to hurt you? Do they have the right or your permission to hurt or kill you?

So, are you racist? I have so many different friends and acquaintances but there are certain things I was taught as a child and I still know them. As far as friends go, I have no problem but as a romance partner I would. So, I am a racist too because of that.

Maybe our generation still believes in so many things but we have to stop teaching racism. Children don’t have to know that and we don’t have to teach them to not accept. The more we can teach them to accept the more confident they will be in how they live their lives. They deserve that.

So let us look in the mirror and change that person in who and what they teach. It is certainly time.


FEATURED IN PEEL WEEKLY NEWS (JULY 15, 2021)

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