Sammy Rangel uses his own example to show how empathy, though not necessarily agreement, can bridge a chasm of hatred.
Sammy Rangel uses his own example to show how empathy, though not necessarily agreement, can bridge a chasm of hatred.

Don’t tell Sammy Rangel to follow the golden rule.

The former gang leader, drug addict, armed robber and convict rejects the notion of treating others as he’d like to be treated.

“I don’t necessarily agree with that,” said Rangel, talking Jan. 24 at Ripon College as keynote speaker for the college’s Martin Luther King Jr. Week observance. “We need to treat people at the very best that we can at all times regardless of how they’re behaving.”

His 1 hour, 40-minute talk was co-sponsored by the Ripon College Center for Diversity and Inclusion. 

Rangel, a motivational speaker and co-founder of an organization helping people escape lives of crime and violence, maintained that because no one completely understands another’s life story, listeners can best engage others by empathizing with them rather than condemning them.

That includes white supremacists, Nazis and “violent extremists” — a term Rangel used to describe himself as he offered his recipe for combating hate to an audience of about 100 in the Great Hall of Harwood Memorial Union.

Read about Rangel's recipe for combating hate in the Feb. 8, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.