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Control over one’s life is all about choices. We manage and shape our lives by the choices we make or do not make (which are choices as well).

Certainly not all of our choices are good ones, though philosophically they are essentially about a perceived “good.” Theorists say that the reality we perceive is not necessarily reality itself, since our perceptions are colored by our experience, values, biases, etc.  Thus, we are prone to error.

Those most vulnerable to making poor choices are usually reactive rather than proactive types. They listen more to their feelings than their minds. Their perception often prompting knee-jerk response. Proactive outrage by others can cause choices that undermine the effectiveness of their response. That is when they should not take the bait.

When hate groups, bigots, true believers, and fanatics assault common sense and others’ sensibilities, they aim to get attention for their causes. For them there is no such thing as bad publicity. So they bait the media, traditional and social, and anyone who differs with them. Marches, demonstrations, hate symbols and “fighting words” incite newsworthy incidents that promote their beliefs.

Taking the bait is a big mistake. But what if the media and others instead check  their reactions, contain, focusing the energy of their outrage on intelligent, passive resistance? 

Unfortunately, the simple wisdom of “Just ignore them and they will go away” rarely works for hate groups. Unified, truth-and-peace-seeking resistance sends a better and moral message.

More easily said than done?  Certainly. Hate group tactics engender responses of revulsion, anger, confrontation and violence. To break the cycle requires containing and controlling one’s revulsion and anger, both bait-vulnerable, by firmly confronting by resistance, not by attempting to eradicate. Hate fuels hate; it cannot diminish or dissolve it.

Nor can love. What works is the long run is clarity. And consistency. And belief in the elemental goodness of humankind. A lesson learned long ago said that error of itself has no right to exist; but it does exist nonetheless. The same can be said for hate. Good, clear choices, especially the choice not to take the bait, will better all of us.