The voices of division are loud. So out-shout them.

There’s a picture I’m sure you’ve seen. Been all over social media and the news. It’s of a young man holding a tiki torch and shouting. Shouting so hard you can see the tendons in his neck. He’s with a larger group of young men all doing the same. All white supremacists. It gave me a chill. Where did they learn this hate? I mean most must’ve been maybe 2 or 3 years old during 9/11 yet here they are, some using a symbol of hate that’s over half a century old. This guy though, he looks like he could be anyone’s kid. Youthful. Clean cut. But full of anger and hate and lashing out.

These displays of intolerance are everywhere. Even here in Bangladesh, one cannot escape the feelings that are provoked by watching the scenes of Charlottesville in the States. Being on the other side of the world, it still feels close. The level of ignorance and intolerance is sickening. More so, the response of some leaders has been frustrating.

Those feelings however are the easy ones and don’t get me wrong, we deserve to feel them. But we face a challenge here. How do we answer this? How do we let love be the answer during this dark hour? We can’t let those people, so full of hate, govern who we are, who we want to be. We need to make sure we are having these discussions with each other, and our children.

The challenge starts at home. I know the world is not evil, it is not divided by hate, and hate cannot win. The world does not have to be divided on race, religion, or sexual orientation. We do not have to go any further than our own backyard to see the hope for this.

But today my back yard is Bangladesh. I cannot help but draw some comparisons. Bangladesh is an incredibly dense country. There are 160 million people in an area not much larger than the island of Newfoundland. They suffer from incredible poverty and have gigantic challenges in health, environment and industry. They’re also divided by religious lines, 80% Muslim and 20% Hindu. They live and work side by side peacefully tolerant of each other’s views and beliefs. Yes, tolerance can win.

Yes Bangladesh still has a long way to go in a lot of areas but the point is they are moving in a positive direction. Forward, not backward. They have made incredible strides in health care and maternal medicine in particular. In the 1980’s, there was a 600/100,000 maternal death rate, an incredibly high number (Canada’s is 6/100,000, a full 100 times difference). During this time in Bangladesh you were 100 times more likely to die based on location alone. Yet with the help of other countries (like Canada) the rate today is approximately 100/100,000. Positive progress.

There’s no problem too difficult to tackle, too complex to understand. Bangladesh reaffirmed that for me. We came here to teach but we have been the ones learning. Tolerance and acceptance are alive and well but they need our help to thrive. To celebrate difference, not fear it. To answer those who would attempt to divide us. To shout louder than that young man in the picture.

Best,
Andrew

8 Responses to “The voices of division are loud. So out-shout them.”

August 19 at 3:07 pm, Jamie Meadus said:

You never fail to inspire Andrew love your blog I am eagerly awaiting your next installment.

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August 19 at 3:24 pm, Mahmuda Munni said:

Excellent overview Dr. Andrew! Here we live with hope that someday surely we can show the world that poverty cannot divide us, we shall overcome all the odds & achieve SDG.

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August 19 at 8:29 pm, Laura King said:

Love and hope must win. We cannot continue to destroy those who appear different or we destroy ourselves as well.

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August 19 at 9:26 pm, Joy Byrde said:

Hi & Thank you Dr Andrew– sooo very proud to call you one of ours & sooo very proud that you wrote this in these troubling times – Thank you for all you are doing to make this world a better place in which to live. Hope your kindness & compassion continues to reach those who are in desperate need & hope the rest of us can continue to learn from your inspirational messages & the kindness you are sharing -???

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August 20 at 12:32 am, Christine Care said:

Thank,you Andrew. It is so hard to have hope for,the future. Your writing helps. I have a dear friend from Bangledesh, he has lived in Newfoundland for over 40 years. I am happy to here that live there is improving.

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August 20 at 1:54 am, Maureen said:

Beautiful story Andrew bless you and your friends for all you do

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August 20 at 3:47 am, Noeleen Gray said:

Andrew, as you know my son is Inuit. There was so much talk about demonstrations here in Newfoundland, our quiet Province, that I came out of the hospital before I should have. But you and our friends in Bangladesh give me hope and faith. Thank you!

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August 20 at 7:40 pm, Selina Parsons said:

Of times the poor and destitute are the ones we can learn from. It appears that we can at least learn to get along with our neighbors. Perhaps because poor people have nothing that others want to take from them, is why there is more acceptance of each other. In our Western world and other developed countries perhaps we have too many possessions, too much freedom, too much greed too much power that we are desensitized. We are lacking love and compassion. And now our kids are becoming more desensitized with their video games and gang warfare on such, that we can’t expect anything but worse times ahead.

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