Like everyone else I have listened to the news from Charleston.  A friend told me when he first heard about it:   “If the shooter was a Muslim he would be a terrorist, if he was black he would be a thug, if he was hispanic he would be an illegal alien, but since he is white….while since he is white he will most assuredly be mentally ill.”

For many people it would be easier if he was “mentally ill.”

Then it would not be about racism….

Then it would not be about guns….

Then it would not be about a political climate that demonizes and dehumanizes anyone different from you…

Then it would not be about a culture that glorifies violence as a way to make your point…

Then it would not be about groups that have made a cottage industry out of hatred and fear…

Then it would not be about a state that flies the state flag at full mast in the face of unspeakable tragedy and that cant understand why others think the tragedy has something to do with the character of the state and its history of violence towards blacks.

For some it would be about mental illness and why did we not force him to take a pill that would make it alright and how long will we let the maniacs run free.

For some it would be about not enough guns and not understanding how senior citizens sitting in a church for a bible study would not come armed and ready to shoot back.

We live in a country divided and the scariest thing is how many people celebrate that division.  The scariest thing is how many people think that hatred is the only rational response to people different from them.  Our political system is about who can point fingers the loudest and longest.  It is about how well our leaders tell people they have a reason to be scared and they need to vote for them because they will protect them.

When hatred becomes righteousness the seeds of murder have been planted.  And when we no longer celebrate or find value or truth in the things that connect us, that tie us together well…..

I think that if you teach people they have reason and justification to hate, that there is no reason not to act on that hatred and indeed ample reason to act on it, if you romanticize and preach violence as a way to address hatred, if you make the tools of violence easily and plentifully available, if they can convince themselves the consequences of that violence are positive or even righteous the real question is not “why Charleston” but who is next.

Dylann Roof is responsible for Dylann Roof.  We did not make him. There is no factor, no reason that gives him a pass.  But there are more like him….Maybe a lot more.  But if we did not make him did we at least not make him more likely….I dont know.

Hatred is not a mental illness.  It cannot be cured.  There is no pill nor therapy.  But it is like a plant.  It must grow to live.  And when we feed it and water it and dismiss and reject all those who grow different fruit how can we be surprised in what we sow?

Let be clear. I am not saying dont be angry.  There is much to be angry about.  Evil should always anger us.  But it is what we do that matters.

My prayer:

Dear God….Lord please comfort and support those effected by this terrible tragedy.  Let them know that the deaths of their loved ones, through this evil and capricious act are not in vain because their lives were not in vain.  Each of those lives planted the seeds of love and care, commitment and purpose, and the reality of beauty  in the lives of those they met in their too short lives.  Help us to stand strong against those who reduce us to hatred and violence and let them know they cannot win.  Help us to know that in standing together we find what we really stand for.  Lord help us to know that in our commitment to each other and our refusal to accept hatred and violence as reasonable options for life that we find real strength.  Lord help us to know that we shall overcome and that nothing, nothing or nobody will still us or delay us or slow us in the pursuit of a fair and just life, a better life for all your children.



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