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Last week, the nation was focused on the murder of nine pillars of their community as they gathered to pray in their church in Charleston, South Carolina. Each of us should morn for the families of these good people as well as the people of Charleston and South Carolina. One sick person was able to walk into a welcoming church, pray with them, and then turn on them to kill them. It takes a truly sick individual to do something of this nature. Thankfully, he is locked up. Because South Carolina’s criminal laws are similar to Virginia’s, upon conviction he can be expected to be sentenced to the death penalty.
The man who committed these murders made no qualms about expressing his racist attitude. Some of the questions that communities around the nation must ask themselves will be answered in the trial. Could this happen in our community?” and “Why did he choose to enter a church with only a small group in attendance?”
The answer to the first is that it could happen anywhere in the world, including our own communities, because there are many people among us that are either mentally unstable or simply sick. The answer to the second may well rest with the fact that he attacked those who were the least likely to be able to defend themselves. The fact is, that unless someone like this has a death wish for themselves, they are most likely to attack those who are likely to be most vulnerable.
Another question less likely to be part of the trial is the greater issue of attacks on our civilization over the last few years. I have not seen this level of attacks based on race or religion since the sixties. At first blush, my thought was that maybe we are just hearing more because the media is more sensationalized than in generations past, and that may be part of the issue.
However, to a greater degree, over the last several years we have had those who seek to divide us rather than find reasons to bring people together. For a nation that was built on many people united as one, we have those who believe Americans should determine who enters our country on one side and those who refuse to assimilate into our language and culture on the other. For a nation that was established on Judeo-Christian beliefs, we have those who adhere to their own religion’s beliefs challenged by threats or lawsuits if they do not give up those values. For a nation of people that was recreated after a deadly war between the states, we are torn between those that want the healing to continue as it has in starts and stops over the last fifty years and those whose financial or political success is derived through racial disharmony.
These are issues that we will be forced to address if we are to heal our society. There will be no easy answers, and there will be other deeper questions as we move forward. We can only hope and pray that the news media and those seeking advantage or financial gain will not drive the issue but rather sane and sensible people who simply believe in doing the right thing for the right moral reasons. We cannot allow this tragedy to evolve into greater violence by anyone.
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