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Tragic Harvest – Learning from Charleston

June 21, 2015

It is instructive to listen to the statements of the victims’ family members at the bail hearing for  the Charleston shooter and contrast those with the bitter, divisive words of the politicians before and following this senseless tragedy.

Galatians 6:7 is quoted often but it is usually just the last portion of the quote that is used to illustrate a point.

The most often cited complete version, from the King James version of the Bible reads like this: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Identity politics, base-building or whatever label you give it, is based on divide and conquer. It relies on pitting one group against another as victims and oppressors, and then convincing the victim group that you understand them and will cure all their problems and punish all their oppressors.

Even the most casual political observer has a hard time not noticing that, particularly in the last the last six and a-half years, the rhetoric has been largely about dividing the nation along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender and economic envy.

Government has become less about leading and improving  the lot of the entire country than it has about visiting retribution upon a few.

That’s the wrong crop to be cultivating.

Make no mistake. That is not an excuse or a mitigating circumstance that gives some cowardly petty criminal justification to walk into a church and kill nine people. That act is all on the shooter.

Likewise, it is absolutely true that racial tension still exists, often smoldering just under the surface of society.

Acknowledging that, why would anyone, especially for some self-serving purpose, plow the embers to the top and then repeatedly feed them fuel instead of seeking to extinguish them?

Yet feed them they do, making a day like June 18 all but inevitable.

No one forced the killer to pull the trigger that day. Just like the people who are raised in the freest country on earth and then leave it to join ISIS, what he did need was a cause or a focus to give his own less than successful life some meaning.

He got it from the incessant political focus on stoking the fires of racial animus and envy.

There is no national war on women, no national cabal of people bent on oppressing blacks, Hispanics or any other group. American business people have no interest in starving their employees to death. Unfortunately for the country, acknowledging that reality doesn’t get votes.

There are pockets of bad behavior, racism and intolerance and there will always be people that glory in exercising their power to harm other people. Those should be addressed in situ and corrected, not turned into national rallying points for hate.

There are certainly people whose life motto is “I got mine, so who cares about anything else?” There are a lot more that say “I’ve got enough to share.”  Americans as a nation are very giving people, evidenced by their unwavering support for charities in good times and bad.

The man who came to church to sit with nice people in the Emanuel AME church solely because churches carried the least physical risk to him, and stayed to kill will be analyzed to death before he is ever physically dead.

Much will be made out of his apparent inclusion in what we call the society of life’s losers. That’s fine, as long as it doesn’t become another excuse to sow the fields with hatred and division. Hate crimes can exist on either side of any line.

The good people of Emanuel AME and the city of Charleston are a living memorial to what is good and right about America.

This whole incident could have and may become exactly what the shooter wanted it to be; the start of an all-out race war. If that happens, then evil wins.

Hopefully our brainless politicians can learn the lesson Charleston is not just teaching, but living.

Life is not equal. People are not equal and neither evil or good has a color, a country or a bank account.

We are not guaranteed perfection, power or riches. We are only guaranteed a chance to choose our own paths and effect our own outcomes.

We can acknowledge and correct our shortcomings without exacting revenge or demanding perfection.

It’s time to plant  better seed, if we really want better crops.

From → op-ed

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