“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela
“You cannot reap what you have not sown. How are we going to reap love in our community if we only sow hate?” Óscar Romero
The epidemic of gun violence in the United States continued this weekend, with mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, claiming the lives of at least 31 people and shattering these communities. Many of us react to these acts of violence with a variety of emotions—outrage, sorrow and despair. Where do we go from here?
These tragedies reveal the violent intersection of racism, domestic terrorism and gun violence. The El Paso shooter may in fact face hate crime charges. Hate crimes continue to spiral upwards. In 2018 alone, hate crimes rose 9 percent in major U.S. cities for a fifth consecutive yearly increase. Three out of five were motivated by race and ethnicity. Religion and sexual orientation were the other two primary motivators.
In the midst of this disturbing trend, we are not powerless. We reap what we sow. Every act of kindness and mercy that we offer to one another sows seeds of love. No act is too small. Words do matter. It is up to each of us to counter words and deeds that fuel hatred with the powerful and healing antidote—that is love. We must be proactive, not succumbing to a sense of helplessness. As Galatians 6:9 instructs us, “let us not become weary in doing good.”
Jan Musgrove Elfers