It doesn't take much to become a hero - it's enough to decide that it is the right time to act and stick to the conviction that you need to do your best to help. Young Gabrysia from Szydłowiec has the real makings of a superhero - knowledge, conviction, and skills!
Together against hate
"We need to speak in a language which young people will understand. We need to begin with education because you can't teach an old dog new tricks..." says Jurek Owsiak, who came up with the idea to invite experts: lawyers, social activists, artists, and educators to discuss the ways in which we - as a community and we - as a nation can stop hateful comments and divisive, hurtful opinions from taking over the discourse.
The lawyers from the office of Ombudsman, represented by Adam Bodnar and Anna Błaszczak-Banasiak addressed the legal side of the discussion, explaining what is hate in the eyes of law and how to use the law to combat hate. Unfortunately, even the Ombudsman himself commented that Polish law and the legal system falls short of prosecuting the haters and protecting the victims of hate.
"Hate can affect anyone. Hate destroys social bonds, divides people and spreads fear ... I hope that this debate will inspire us to make positive changes," said Adam Bodnar.
Joanna Grabarczyk, who is a social activist and coordinates HejtStop Poland project, explained how NGOs and different activists try to combat different forms of hate (such as homophobia and Islamophobia) and how they, despite their limited financial capacities, offer support to victims of hate and discrimination.
"Victims of hate require legal and psychological support. NGOs don't have enough funds and we don't have the support of the government, yet we keep doing whatever is our power to help," she said.
Rafał Pankowski is a sociologist of culture, educator, and activist. He stressed the role of education in the fight against hate. The more knowledgeable the public, the more knowledgeable the police forces are the more critical of hate they would be.
Even though the panellists represented different organizations and their approach to combatting hate differed, they agreed that one of the key factors in addressing the issue lies in approaching different social groups of people and working on different educational initiatives. It is also essential to secure the support of governmental organizations - in terms of both - financial backing and changes introduced to the Polish legal system.
The panellists answered questions from the audience and asked for ideas on how to combat hate - Jurek Owsiak was after something unique, interesting and attention-grabbing as the chairman of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation plans to continue this initiative and discussion at the Most Beautiful Festival in the World. The audience at the festival will be able to take part in similar discussion panels, share their stories, and perhaps inspire others to make positive changes in their lives!
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