What One Dad Did to Combat Hate Speech Will, Quite Simply, Change You
The last thing Oregon dad and rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer probably expected to see when he went outside one morning to walk his dogs was hate speech scrawled in chalk on the pavement in front of his house.
"I'm sitting in my garage. I'm shaken. Anti-Semitic and racist hate was written on the driveway outside my garage door this morning," Mayer wrote in a Facebook post about the experience that has since gone viral.
And while many parents might have washed the sickening words away before their children could see it, this dad and his wife Jane decided to use the unsettling incident as a teaching moment for their kids Annie, age 7, and Emmett, age 9. "We decided that we wouldn't clean it until the kids were up. We would handle hatred and erase it together. As a family," Mayer wrote.
Not only did the four of them take turns washing the words off the pavement, but neighbors also came over to help. "I didn't know people did this any more," Mayer says one girl, named Sarah, said about the awful message.
Then, this amazing dad recounts what they did next, "We adorn the wet pavement with hearts and peace signs. Sarah beautifully writes out, 'Love always wins.'" He adds, "Standing on the street, we feel each other's support. Love. Solidarity."
Although Mayer admits the experience scared him, he says in the end, "I know love always wins." He writes about how in the current climate of hate in this country, sometimes people feel like they don't know what to do. His advice: "Be more loving. Randomly love. Strategically love. Take actions that are loving. Be caught being loving. Do loving things even when no one will notice."
Mayer also told Today.com, "The lesson that love always wins is not a lesson that can be just heard and accepted. This lesson of taking the high road—of reacting to hate with love—is one that must be taught slowly over time, and it must be taught by example."
Um, catch up with me in a few hours (or days, or weeks, or months, or years!) when I get over how amazing this father is. And when I manage to digest just how powerful his words and actions are. Here's hoping what this family did will inspire love far beyond their Oregon block.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.