Over the years, as immigrants struggle to empower ourselves and each other, the quickest way to impede progress is through hazing. This is because hazing, in any organization and on all levels, carries with it the basic psychology of having to prove oneself or earn one’s keep in order to be granted with acceptance and belonging. The very notion of hazing is dependent on an imbalance of power, where one is allowed the ability to dictate the other’s well-being, and whether this other is worthy of being accepted.
For Private Danny Chen, this experience was not what his parents wanted for him when they made the diffi cult journey of immigrating and adjusting to life in America, where their assumption was that their educated son would have the potential to achieve his goals.
But hazing is not just restricted to military service. In the news, we often hear of hazing also in reference to fraternities and sororities. Even outside of formal organizations, hazinghappens on varying levels at workplaces and in certain social settings. The most prominent and harmful aspect of hazing is the fact that there is often an unchecked person’s power that can subject any kind of rules or standards on others. Chen may have been made to feel that he had to accept mistreatment due to his ethnic background, but in a different place and with a different person, it could be the person’s sexuality, appearance, age, or other reasons that are more diffi cult to pinpoint. Perhaps the only thing which separates hazing from bullying is the not all too reassuring promise that acceptance may soon follow.
It is safe to assume that if hazing can happen in a regimented agency like the military, then hazing can happen anywhere. While Danny Chen’s case has brought to light hazing in the military, we should be cognizant of hazing and even passive hazing in all aspects of our society. The damage that comes with hazing is a persisted mindset of having to be subjected to the often unreasonable standards of the majority, rather than celebrating diversity and building communities. In other words, hazing on all levels flies in the face of everything we work for as immigrants and friendly neighbors. Yet, the issue is only brought to light when a life is taken from us.
More should be done to promote a zero-tolerance of hazing in all aspects of our lives, including educating the community on what hazing means and its direct and indirect consequences. Hazing should get the same amount of attention in the media as bullying has had in the past year.
The two often go hand in hand and should be addressed together. It is often easier to accept behavior as the norm if it’s disguised as part of the system. However, we must remember that the citizens of this country have made history based on defying the system. There is no reason now, with so much at risk, for us to turn a blind eye. (end)