Hate. It had a field day in America this week. From the slaughter of innocents based on their ethnicity, faith and skin color, to the bombs being mailed to the doorsteps of those who hold certain left-leaning political ideals, it has been a week in which hate has reared its ugly head once again, bringing our country to its knees, crying for the insanity to stop.
I’ve been reading about the men and women in Pittsburgh who lost their lives in the safest place they could be in: their place of worship.
The faces and names of those killed are much more than a list of casualties. They each have stories that have shaped them, people who love them and worlds they were a part of that are now at a standstill.
I can’t read these stories without envisioning the many Jews we’ve met along our journey who have helped shape us, not to mention the synagogue we were blessed to get to visit in Rhode Island, where we were treated like family. This could just as easily have happened there to those we now call friends.
The Kroger shooting this week, which originally targeted an African-American faith community, is not a random event in a random city for us because our time in Louisville was spent getting to know a black pastor of an African-American church filled with friends who we now hold very dear to our hearts. If you were to attack one of them, it would feel like an attack on a member of our own family. These men and women are our brothers and sisters, and it breaks our hearts that they too have been put in a position of fear in their place of worship. The place where we encounter our faith family and seek the face of God should be the safest place of all. But this week, that was not the case.
I don’t know how we undo this mess of hatred in America, but the journey we are on has given us some clues to understand its root causes, and perhaps given us a glimpse of an avenue out of this place of utter despair into the hope of becoming the nation most of us long for it to be.
We have a long, hard road ahead of us, and in a week filled with this much pain, very few, if any have a desire to even consider that road. I know I wouldn’t if it was my place of worship under attack or my political ideals becoming a target on my back, or my skin color making me the object of someone else’s murderous hatred. I feel that deep ache of the loss of my brothers and sisters who are in mourning and my heart mourns with them. But in the midst of that mourning, I am eyeing the road, wondering if we could begin to walk down it and when. I feel that time is of the essence, especially since hate thinks it has won the war.
Thankfully, there is one force on the earth more powerful than hate. I have seen it in the eyes and hearts of so many we have encountered across this country. When it rears its glorious head, I want to be on the front row as hate flees in utter terror, because I still believe, despite all the bloodshed we have seen, that love in the end will win.