Rabbi Dr. Irwin Wiener, Sun Lakes Jewish Congregation
The history of hate extends beyond our understanding of time and space. From Cain killing Abel to the present day, we have learned nothing about controlling the impulses to hate and destroy that which we hate. It is a disease that festers and grows, because we allow it to flourish. Humankind was built with many abilities, some good and some, of course, bad. The desire to control the bad is, most often, lost in the realm of everyday living and survival.
Today, we are witnessing the most virulent display of hate and bigotry in our country’s history.
Our temples of academia spread discontent. The media thrives on the sensationalism of the fright associated with hate. Religious authorities try, on the most part, to control the savagery, only to find their influence slipping away. The reports of humanity’s efforts to achieve survival for all are lost in the atrocities occurring every day, visible from our easy chairs. It is difficult to find stories of technological contributions for the betterment of humanity. The stories of selfless efforts to feed the hungry, house the homeless, or attempts at achieving peace are difficult to find as well.
Age-old distortions are prevalent. Every time we seem to make progress in creating an atmosphere of connection, there seem to be many more episodes of discontent. Now the world that is supposed to be more in tune, more intelligent, more responsible, more educated, has not changed anything. The flagrant display of hostility is not because of one person, or some people, but rather because the disenfranchised now find their moment in the sun and are not afraid to display their anger and frustration. And it is for these reasons and more that it is so frightening.
The most recent display of religious and racial hatred seems to have permeated our society. This disease has been festering for a long time. The antagonism and the vitriol that dominates our thinking has become a nightmare—something that seems to be impossible to control.
Our country, which was, and still is a beacon of hope, now finds itself drawn into a lack of endurance and fortitude as it continues the journey of acceptance. We tolerate more than we can digest, because we are afraid and intimidated by the vocal minority that attempts to become the majority.
Our country is experiencing trauma upon trauma as we watch our bravest enter fields of endeavor that seem to have no ending. We lose loved ones and are witnessing the decay of our society’s efforts at redeeming our country and world, one person at a time.
The media constantly reminds us of the atrocities in lands we cannot even pronounce. More importantly, we are witnessing the destruction of our cities filled with murder and mayhem that seems to be uncontrollable. We read about these horrific episodes and then return to our normal pursuits. Our minds cannot, and do not, understand how we have sunk so low. We close our eyes and hope that when they open, all of this will disappear, together with the root causes.
How will reason prevail when hate is taught in the classroom, in our homes, and also in some houses of faith? How can the brutality end when we applaud the tragedies as we watch our young people get caught up in the frenzy of destruction of sacred thoughts and places?
Civilized society requires, no, demands that we confront this evil that has infiltrated our lives. Civilized society must attempt to create a positive approach to the understanding that we need each other to survive. The discourse that should be taking place needs to be tempered with sanctity for life.
Our dream, as Americans, should be that as we engage the storm, we also know that the storm can destroy the very fabric of our being. Our leaders need to lead the way, not join in the upheaval. Our leaders need to demonstrate the futility of these hate-filled episodes that are destroying the essence of who we are as a nation.
Hate is here, will always be here, but can be relegated to the dung heap of history. If we learn anything from the atrocities of the past, it is that we can make the future brighter than the past.
Isn’t that what we want for ourselves and those who follow?