In today’s digital age, people find themselves immersed in a vast ocean of media. From scrolling through social media feeds to streaming videos and engaging with the 24-hour news cycle, the consumption of media has become an integral aspect of daily life. Imagine a world where the majority of the content consumed is designed to foster empathy, challenge hate, and promote inclusivity. Media, when wielded responsibly, has the potential to be a motivational force for social transformation. This week on The State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, we explore the power of responsible organizing through media to build inclusive societies free from hate.
“A six-year-old Jewish boy placed a menorah in his window for Hanukkah. A brick was thrown through the window and it landed on his bed; and people knew that things were becoming more dangerous. What can we do? And they said, they can’t possibly attack every Jewish home if we’re all Jewish, so let’s all put menorahs in our windows. And that year, 10,000 people put menorahs in their windows for Hanukkah. And the white supremacist organizing stopped.” – Patrice O’Neill, founder and co-director of Not in Our Town, a movement of people across the country working to build safe, inclusive communities. A filmmaker and CEO of the nonprofit strategic media company The Working Group, she works to galvanize community action against hate through film.
Pardeep Singh Kaleka is the author of Gifts of Our Wounds: A Sikh and a Former White Supremacist Find Forgiveness After Hate. A tireless anti-hate and interfaith leader, he is the son of Satwant Singh Kaleka, the leader of the Oak Creek Gurdwara who was murdered, along with five others, at the Sikh temple in 2012. The tragedy of Oak Creek and its aftermath are examined in the 2013 Not in Our Town documentary Waking in Oak Creek, which is just one of the projects projects Patrice and Pardeep discuss with Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, host of The State of Belief, this week. NIOT films are available for free viewing on their website, along with educational materials for classroom and congregational use.
“This is really the one movement we should have been dealing with from the beginning of the beginnings, because religion is the movement that touches all the movements.” – Mario Cader-Frech, a pioneering social impact media strategist who has worked for over 20 years in roles including senior vice president of public affairs and social responsibility at Viacom International. Mario is now a student at Harvard Divinity School and a media and entertainment fellow at Harvard Religion and Public Life, where he developed an organization dedicated to bringing religious literacy to Hollywood called DeeperDive.org.