The Culture of Hate

No great progress was made on the book this last week. There has been little news on my grandpa. He’s still with us, but getting worse daily, and I’m still spending my days letting the memories flow over everything else I’m doing. I’m not concentrating much on work, school, writing…not even Ralphie is getting the attention necessary to keep him from behaving like a bull in a china shop.

On top of my own crises, a friend of mine’s cousin was killed by a cop. He wasn’t in the act of committing any crime. He was sitting in his car. He did have a gun, but the police have not been sharing much else. It would seem no aggressive behavior was exhibited. How does this happen? Wouldn’t the office have spoken to him first? Asked questions? Even if something did seem suspicious, arrest him, don’t kill him. I know police have to make split second decisions and we weren’t there, but there is so much mistrust between the police and some of the communities they serve that sometimes, you don’t know who to believe. And this isn’t just about deadly force – what about the sex scandal with the Oakland Police Department? I respect our police departments – they are out there, putting their lives on the line every day, but some days, you can’t help but question everything.

Certainly our world has been going crazy these days. There have been more mass shootings and hate crimes than I can ever remember. When 9-11 happened, it was especially shocking in how unusual it was for something like this to happen in our backyards. Now, it’s almost like we are going from one tragedy to the next and instead of asking How or Why, we are only asking When.  When is the next one? Because we all know it’s coming.

We need to get back to asking How and Why, because those are the only questions that are going to help us solve this epidemic of violence. Many people want to look at an easy solution – ban guns. I believe this is a copout – it’s easy to say ban guns because that requires little investment of time from any of us. Just pass a law and it will all magically be better and we didn’t have to participate in our community at all. We didn’t have to get our hands dirty by trying to find the REAL solution. I’m just as much to blame. My husband and I didn’t walk the bridge with the community after the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church although we grieved for the families. We don’t volunteer – although we do give money to charity. Generally, we are just as disengaged as most people. This is part of what we need to figure out – how do we get people involved in their communities? Because it’s through involvement that you meet other people who may not be just like you but then you discover they really ARE just like you and a bond can be created. Maybe it’s not this simple, but we need a place to start.

While I can see, in some instances, perhaps tougher gun laws might have prevented a few of the tragedies we find every day in our newspapers, we all know it’s not going to solve them all. For every one criminal that gets their gun legally, many more do not. Do you think gang members and drug dealers walk into their neighborhood gun store and process the necessary paperwork for a background check? I think not. However illegal we make guns in this country, criminals will find a way to get them. Cocaine and heroin are illegal and yet they are everywhere.

How did it become OK to kill people when you are angry or upset? How did we become so full of hate that taking someone’s life is the go-to response? I’ve disagreed with people, hated people who have betrayed me, and wished neighbors would move away. Never was my response to cause anyone harm. I felt guilty for days after accidentally killing a bug while spraying for weeds. The weed spray went down into a little hole in the dirt and this poor bug comes running up out of the hole and I could see he was struggling for life. It was a terrible feeling.

Why would someone throw a kitten out a car window onto a busy highway? Why would someone shoot up a nightclub or a church? Why would someone kill their own children or their neighbor’s dog? What is it about our society today that has filled everyone with so much rage? I don’t have the answers, but we need to figure out where the hate is coming from and how we can stop it. And we need to do it soon, because it seems to me that right now, if we don’t, it’s only going to get worse.

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