The cold-blooded killings of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday ought to give every decent human being a wake-up call. Civilization is under attack inside of our own borders. And possibly most troubling, the attack is coming from within.
I am becoming increasingly disturbed at the ramping up of vicious behavior toward others. In the past week, we experienced one individual mailing pipe bombs and another walking into a house of worship and indiscriminately taking lives — the eldest of whom was a 97-year-old woman.
While America, this land, this ideal, is my home, I am feeling as if I am standing at a tipping point — one where the nation I once knew will become the past and one ripe with hate and intolerance toward others becomes the present. I pray I am wrong.
This nation and its people are better than this. Now is the time for the real patriots to step up — the ones who believe this nation was created to bring out the best in mankind, regardless of race, creed, color or even political persuasion. Enough is enough. One could make the case we are only a few steps from a level of toxicity that will change the direction of our nation for years.
Like many, I’ve lived in more ZIP codes than I can remember, one of them even in culturally diverse Pittsburgh. But while the landscapes and faces changed, other items did not. This is a generous nation where, on balance, people want to help each other, raise their families in a safe environment, and to contribute to this grand melting pot experiment we call America.
I know this as unquestionably as the fact the sun will rise in the east each morning.
I’m old enough to have experienced half a century of history, but young enough to understand the application of those lessons will make us a better people, a better nation, a better citizen of the world.
America is not perfect, never was, never will be. But over time, this nation continues to forge a better world by both deeds and examples. We should never lose our faith in this time-proven principle.
We need to stop killing each other in the name of hate. Hate based on religion, hate based on color, hate based on politics.
By nature, we are all different. And despite what a misguided mind might believe, we will always be different and unique from one another.
Right now, I see people pointing fingers, posturing and stoking the flames of fear. This is not helpful. To participate in these actions is to be an accessory to the crimes committed in their name. Instead, we need to speak up, vote, and be — as Gandhi encouraged — the change we wish to see in the world.
Blame is easy. Understanding is hard. Remaining silent as we approach this potential tipping point is dangerous. We need to remember who we are — a nation designed to be a melting pot, a nation representing the best of humanity, a nation fulfilling the promise of a better world — and do not let it go quietly into the violent storm of intolerance.
To do so would be to let a brightest light of humanity be extinguished without a fight.