“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18 “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Reverend/Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This week, on June 17th will mark the sad 1-year anniversary of the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, which left nine African American souls dead. Last night, 50 souls (and the number may rise) were lost in what is now being described as the worst mass shooting in American history.
The common denominator is not just the availability of guns, but HATE. I’ve been teaching ethnic relations, psychology of race and prejudice courses through my 25+ years as a college educator; I am a diversity officer with the Coast Guard Auxiliary; and, I participate in and support causes and programs that try to end hate and abuse towards all people. Yet, sometimes it feels like we (those who care about our fellow man) are trying to plug holes in a dam with our fingers and toes.
I’m not going to even try to analyze and provide solutions in this writing to the causes and reasons why our society and its people never seem to learn from such events. I will simply say that, if you’re reading this, understand that we all participate in varying degrees to the continued hate in our country: When we don’t address the smallest of insults/injuries to other human beings, HATE inevitably grows. From the stereotypes (FALSE images) of others, to the manifestation of derogatory slurs (“‘they’ are ghetto, can’t drive, or look/act/smell funny, etc.”), to active discriminatory actions (“I won’t let/don’t want ‘them’ to come in here, live here, shop here, join my organization …”), to worse (abuse, rape, murder, genocide …), all of these practically guarantee that hate and hate-inspired events such as this most recent will persist.
Therefore, I plan to keep ‘plugging the holes in the dam’ and will simply pledge to work even HARDER to treat my fellow man, regardless of race/ethnicity, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation and/or socioeconomic status, the same way I would want to be treated: with Decency, Respect and Humanity, and most importantly, with LOVE. If humanity is to have a chance, I hope more of you pledge to do so, as well.
Prayers and Blessings to ALL the souls lost to this senseless violence.
Grand Polaris Iota Phi Theta Fraternity,
Inc. Oakland, CA