Dialogue and Difference Presentation Tackles Questions Surrounding Origins of Hatred

The Kent State University community attended a virtual event on Feb. 22 in which Tatsushi (Tats) Arai, Ph.D., an associate professor of peace and conflict studies and a peacebuilding scholar, addressed the challenging questions: what is hatred, where does it come from and how do you overcome it?

Arai hopes that this presentation, entitled “Dialogue on Hatred: A Peacebuilder’s Perspective,” will inspire participants to begin dialogues on the issue of hatred and how to dismantle it.

The event was a continuation of the year-long initiative “Dialogue and Difference: A New Understanding designed to engage the Kent State community and advance our core values of freedom of expression, respect, and kindness in all we do.

The Division of People, Culture and Belonging is partnering with the School of Peace and Conflict Studies and the Division of Student Life to deliver the series of educational programs that features diverse perspectives and aims to help us better understand each other.

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Amoaba Gooden, Ph.D., the vice president of People, Culture and Belonging, introduced Arai, and Sandra Morgan, director of strategic partnerships and outreach for the College of Arts and Sciences at Kent State, who was the moderator.

The dialogue took place in the context of how campus life in the U.S. “is a microcosm of identity-based differences, capable of providing a promising ground for dialogue and mutual learning.”

But these same differences can become a “basis for identity-based discrimination, stereotyping and hatred when members of the campus communities internalize the polarizing effects of political divisions, international conflicts and/or other powerful forces in society.” 

Arai, a peacebuilding scholar-practitioner with 25 years of international experience, reflected on the sources and nature of hatred in the context of identity-based conflict. He reflected on his personal experiences during his years of international peacebuilding, as well as the journeys of others whose urge for hatred were able to transform themselves into "giants in social change."

Arai told the story of how as a middle school student in 1984, he and his classmates met with victims of radiation sickness leftover from the atomic bombs dropped in Japan in 1945. He was shocked when one of the victims, a housewife, told him that she did not hate Americans who dropped the bombs. The woman urged Arai to become a leader who promotes co-existence. Arai was moved by this woman's commitment.

“Because of one housewife's commitment you see a peacebuilder speaking to you,” he said.

“Dialogue and Difference” kicked off Feb. 1 at Kent State’s annual Martin Luther King Celebration with “MLK and Me: Living a Life of Love and Peace During Conflict” held in the Kent Student Center Ballroom.

Members of the Kent State community are encouraged to mark their calendars for these upcoming events:

  • “Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression” will occur at 3:30 p.m. on March 5 in the Governance Chambers on the second floor of the Kent Student Center. This session will be led by Tracy Laux, senior lecturer of mathematical sciences and chair of Faculty Senate; Amy Reynolds, Ph.D., dean of the College of Communication and Information; and Deborah Smith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and president of Kent State’s Chapter of American Association of University Professors, Tenure Track Unit.
  • “Cultural and Religious Identity: A Faculty Conversation” will take place at 4 p.m. on March 12. The virtual event will include Rick Feinberg, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Anthropology; Chaya Kessler, director of the Jewish Studies Program and senior lecturer of Hebrew; Babacar M’Baye, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of English; and Lydia Rose, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology. Registration will be available soon on the Dialogue and Difference website.

Additional Dialogue and Difference programs titled “Understanding and Combatting Antisemitism” and “Understanding and Combatting Islamophobia” will be scheduled.

View the full list of events in the Dialogue and Difference series.    

POSTED: Thursday, February 22, 2024 03:56 PM
Updated: Friday, February 23, 2024 12:01 PM
April McClellan-Copeland