Coping with violent acts

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Last week’s prominent bouts of violence and threats of violence, seemingly motivated by political and racial animosity, were troubling to most Americans.

Last Wednesday, police arrested a Florida (and one-time Charlotte) resident for allegedly mailing more than a dozen packages containing dangerous explosives to prominent critics of President Trump.

Last Thursday a man was arrested in Louisville, Ky., after allegedly failing to break into a predominantly African-American church, then shooting and killing two black people in a supermarket.

On Saturday morning, 11 people were gunned down inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Six were also wounded, including four armed police officers.

These acts sadden us and shake us to our core. “This is not America,” we say, but too often it is.

And they were followed by our national pastime, finger-pointing.

Nobody wants their political alignment to be associated with violence. And none of us are responsible for the acts of an extreme few. The people responsible for these crimes were the people who built the devices and pulled the triggers.

Nevertheless, it’s absurd to think that heated, hateful rhetoric would have no influence. It’s intended to have influence. The perpetrators of those acts allowed themselves to be radicalized by the venom they swallowed.

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,” the Scriptures tell us. It falls on each of us, president or pauper, to examine the stories we read, the voices we listen to, the influences we let into our lives. If they’re hateful, if they condemn a whole group of people because of the perceived actions of a few, if they urge us to respond to disagreement with violence and rage, we have a responsibility to reject them with every fiber of our beings.

— The Winston-Salem Journal

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