Humans are very good at killing each other. They’re also very good at justifying why they kill. I believe in order to kill a person, the human mind must firmly believe the other is exactly that–an other. The other is a stranger, different from you, and therefore inherently wrong because of their differences. The other’s existence is perceived as competition for resources that enable your “right” way of living. The other, therefore, becomes unworthy of resources, any semblance of mercy or even existence. This “reasoning” quickly snowballs into hatred, takes root in the soil of self-righteousness and grows tall and strong. Pretty soon the other is blamed for peripheral things, such as lack of work, a lack of prosperity or a lack of notice and regard that you clearly deserve. The act of killing is just a short step behind this hatred, patiently waiting to leap down from the rafters.
I think this is why the rabbi in the dusty sandals said murder begins in the heart. He knew; he told us. And yet we’re not listening. We’re killing, instead. Why? Because people who hate believe they are right to hate. And people don’t like to be told they’re wrong.
Antisemitism is rearing its ugly head in America, bobbing its head above the refuse of immorality and hate our president is so good at stirring. This past weekend, a white American male brought guns inside a synagogue and opened fire, killing 11 Jews worshiping inside the temple. During his cowardly slaughtering, the suspect is reported to have said many anti-Semitic slurs and other hate speech phrases. This incident is being called the worst Antisemitic killing ever done on American soil.
Mental illness, gun rights, outrage, indifference–the whole cycle of what Americans experience each time a shooting occurs is already winding its way through the news cycles. Politicians will make news bites from it, hoping to win their seats in upcoming November elections. Interviews of family members crying and demanding justice in outrage will also circulate television screens. Funerals will be planned for the victims and a local nonprofit may raise funds to erect a memorial. But the news will eventually move onto something else. Nothing substantial will happen regarding gun legislation. Our president could barely cobble together enough words (words encouraged by his Jewish daughter and son-in-law, I should note) to issue condolences before moving back onto his usual agenda of whatever he’s doing.
In my novel, Memory Bound, I touch on themes of hatred occurring in present day America. One of my fears while writing was that I was exaggerating this hatred. Surely, my plot line wouldn’t actually happen in modern day, would it? We’ve learned, certainly, not to blindly hate and disregard each other, even though we disagree and are different sometimes from one another. But then the headlines of the synagogue massacre popped up and I grimaced. News bites of our president pop up, again and again, and I think it must be (ironically) “fake news.” Surely, his leadership, and the hatred he is nurturing in the minds of others, is all a nightmare to wake up from?
I don’t have a fancy ending for this entry. I’m staring off into the distance, watching the blind lead the blind. I don’t understand hatred. I simply do not.
*To be clear, I do not support hate in any form. You can be cute and say “Hate the sin, not the sinner” and smile with evangelical dimples and trappings. However, I’ve rarely heard that sentence said with humility, the tone that says “I’m a sinner, too.” So depending on how that sentence is used, I feel it can just be another way of saying “I’m still right to hate you, or at least a part of you.”