When you listen to yourself talk, how often do you find yourself using the word “hate”? I’m sure that I say it quite often, certainly several times in a day if not more. I don’t think about the negativity of the word when I use it, but it does have a very negative connotation.
One of our children once heard my wife talking and scolded her for using a bad word. For the life of her she couldn’t think of what word she might have used that would cause such a strong rebuke, so she asked, “what bad word”? The reply was one that surprised both my wife and I, “You said hate”. We then had to qualify our use of the word as being acceptable if it is about food or even the color of a car, but not ok if it is about a person or people as a group. In the days and weeks that followed that encounter we learned that hate is a word we have no business using no matter what it is about.
In the past few weeks our nation has seen firsthand what hate can do when it is applied against people. Hatred of a people because of their race, the color of their skin, or the nation of their birth has no place in the United States of America. We are a society with many differences. My maternal grandmother was born in Scotland and my great-grandfather was born in Prussia, what is present day Germany.
My own mother immigrated to America from her birth country of Canada. She went through the proper immigration procedures to become a citizen of the United States of America and she never looked back. Even though she was technically still a citizen of Canada, for all intents and purposes my mother had become an American and she would never even consider having a loyalty anywhere else.
Consider the role hate had in the shootings that took the lives of dozens of American citizens as well as Mexican nationals. Both men became radicalized through different paths, but present in their world was a hatred that neither you nor I can nor will ever understand. How did this hatred of others germinate inside these two killers? I doubt that we will ever know the exact reason they chose to murder dozens of people.
Each of us is raised in an environment where we learn the basics of life. This is what we call a family unit, but not every family unit is the same. If a parent or parents are absent from a child’s life, that child will nearly always be at a disadvantage in life. This is not to say that there aren’t wonderful examples in history where a father and/or mother were absent in a child’s life and yet they still turned out to be exemplary citizens.
More often though, that child coming from what I’ll call an incomplete family unit, must overcome far more obstacles in life because he hasn’t had that example to look up to. How we succeed as a community depends greatly on how we reach out and include those who are struggling.
When I think about my childhood I recall a number of important influences. First, I had good friends though not all of them were good influences. That’s where number two comes in. Good leaders helped shape the kind of adult I would become. They included a scoutmaster, the parents of my friends, and even neighbors who would see me considering an alternate path and would steer me back toward doing what was right. Many times, my parents would never know that I had been led back to the straight and narrow by an adult in my circle of influence.
I would bet that the people who did these mass shootings didn’t have the fail-safe network of good people around them to steer them back onto the right path. They most likely didn’t even have friends, let alone good friends who could influence their thoughts, and later their actions. Their absence of a respect for human life surely included watching violent movies and playing violent video games that include themes of mass shootings. The depiction of a hero character walking up to a creature and blowing his head off with a gun cannot lead to anything good.
Should we keep our guns locked up? Definitely, but along with them should be the game console that depicts horrible acts being inflicted on everyday normal people. And wherever hate exists, it needs to be locked up along with the guns and video games because they don’t belong together