Since Wednesday’s tragic events at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, I am finding it tremendously challenging to write about “play”. Nine people who were engaged in worship through Bible study were shot and killed by a visitor whom they had welcomed into their sanctuary.
But I have little doubt that every individual reading this post is already aware of this. After all of the blog posts, news reports, talk show discussion, social media debate; what more can possibly be written? It was an unimaginable act; an unthinkable tragedy.
But we must not consider it an unspeakable event. There is so much more to be said, so many questions still unanswered…
Prior to taking a shot, the gunman announced to them all the reason behind his horrible actions:
Dylann Roof may have been the only one raising a firearm in that church on Wednesday, but he was not a lone gunman. He was surrounded in spirit by an entire community who continue to propagate a culture of hate, which tragically is still thriving in this country. This needs to be addressed by every single one of us whose own being viscerally rejects that point of view. As a society and as individuals, we can no longer dismiss these instances of violence and injustice that are daily occurring all around us. We can no longer deny that racism exists, and we can no longer close the door on the uncomfortable conversations. We can no longer accept excuses that point the finger in any other direction.
When do we stop pretending that we’re “past all that”? When do we – all of us – stop handing hate down to our children? When do we – collectively as a society – Stand on the Side of Love in every instance, under every circumstance?
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Friday, the families of the victims addressed the shooter at his initial court appearance. They spoke of their pain at the loss of their loved ones, and they spoke of forgiveness, love, and mercy. These are people who walk the walk; people who truly live by the words of Christ in the Bible. Even in the midst of their own grief and suffering, they acted with the strength of their deep conviction to drive out hate with love.
Unimaginable. Unthinkable. Unsurpassable.
As we move forward from these terrible events – asking the difficult questions, facing the deplorable truths, working toward the day when human equity is a universal value – may we all find this strength within us.