Charlottesville reminds me of what a powerful word “hate” can be in our lives.
As a child, I hated beans. White beans, navy beans, any beans my mother would serve. And I would use the word to protest them on my plate.
But one day, my mother had a talk with me about hate. She was calm and quiet. Hate, she told me, was a word we should carefully reserve for only the most evil of things in life. She also told me, the emotion of hate was to give someone or something else power over me.
Considering I had not yet reached double-digit candles on my birthday cake, this might have been a bit difficult to comprehend. But somehow, her words stuck. To this day, I sparingly use the word.
Don’t take my mother as a Pollyanna or simpleton about the world around her. At the same kitchen table, she also shared her memories of the Nazis destroying her childhood in Europe and taking the lives of her neighbors by reducing their homes to rubble as bombs and rockets fell from the nighttime skies.
Her stories shook me to my moral compass — some I refuse to ever write or tell others.
But she never outwardly hated anyone. Sure, she would get upset or angry with others, but to put them in a bucket labeled hate, was something reserved for only the strongest of convictions and moral principles.
This week, I am hearing and seeing this word, hate, spewing across everything from apps on my cell phone to newspaper reports. And this is troubling.
The terrible events that unfolded in Charlottesville are horrific. People and lives are forever changed. But will hate go mainstream in America? I pray to God this does not happen.
Hate is a learned behavior. We see it in other nations where generations of people hate others without ever having looked them in the eyes. ISIS is building an entire generation of fighters against the West with this primitive formula: embed and incite hate against another.
Hate is evil. In the truest sense of the word, hate is a sledgehammer preventing two people from ever being able to trust or respect one another. And once that bridge is destroyed, rarely does one come back.
What I fear is that people will too easily surrender to hate, turning on one another, forever destroying a chance for us to be one people working toward one goal in this nation.
You are not born hating another. Rather, you either learn it through experiences or are taught to hate. But rational people don’t cross the line without first understanding what awaits them on the other side: anger, pain and a smaller world.
I hurt for Charlottesville. I also hurt for families explaining these tragic events to their children. This is one of the most important responsibilities of parenting. I pray — and trust — they will make the right decisions and not plant the seeds of hate. Our nation may depend on it.