When you share love, you defeat hate. That’s what’s happening right now in Charleston, S.C., where the majority of residents in that great city and beyond have, even in its darkest hour, opted to share love rather than spread hate.
It could easily have gone another way, as evidenced in places like Ferguson, Missouri, where riots and destruction were the rule of the day during the height of the Michael Brown tragedy, and in New York after the death of Eric Carter brought on much the same mayhem.
But in Charleston, people are standing together, loving one another through the worst tragedy this southern community has ever witnessed, choosing to unite and holding one another up rather than tearing each other down.
We pray this oneness of spirit continues, even as politicians and national media talking heads use other issues as the rod that could come between God-fearing, God-loving individuals of different races, social status and opinions, all united right now over a pain that would threaten the very fabric of far weaker communities.
It all started last week when a white gunman opened fire on a black church, killing nine people. He sat in that church with the congregation during a nearly hour-long Bible study before brandishing the weapon and wreaking such murderous destruction on innocent people.
Side issues prevail and should bring about honest debate — gun control, the Confederate flag, hate crimes among them — but they should not become the story so many want them to be; they should not diminish what happened in that church and the precious lives that were taken far, far too soon. It wasn’t a gun or a flag that took those lives, it was hate. And until we rid this country of hate, those other issues, and ones like them, will continue to be the mechanisms used to exemplify abhorrent behavior.
Hate prevailed during the Charleston murders, much as it did in Colorado where James Holmes is charged with opening fire in an Aurora movie theater, killing 12 and injuring 70, or in Newtown, Conn., where Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. That same hate was evident when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fire on Columbine High School, killing 13 and injuring 24 others and, a few years later, when John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo randomly killed 10 people and critically injured three others in a series of coordinated attacks that took place over three weeks in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC.
We believe Jesus’ admonishment in Mark 12 remains the best way to live our lives, loving our neighbor as we would ourselves. Jesus said that commandment, along with loving “the Lord thy God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind” were the greatest two commandments. And while all aren’t Christians, we believe, as we’ve said many times on this page, that following those two instructions would make this world a far better place.
Because if you share love, you defeat hate.
In Charleston, people devastated by terrible tragedy are tying to do just that.
We would all do well to learn valuable lessons from victims’ families who are sharing love in the forgiveness they have offered the man who killed their loved ones, and from Charleston residents who, black hand in white, brown hand in red, are showing that uniting in love is far better than dividing in anger that turns to hate.