A year ago we were back in Wisconsin on vacation when a white supremacist opened fire in a Sikh temple only a few miles from where my parents live. Six people died before the shooter killed himself.
My kids, who were born and are growing up in Switzerland, were shocked when they saw the news.
Their American cousin, too, was upset by the shooting and a few days later, when they set up a lemonade stand, the three of them decided to give all their profits to the victims’ families. They made $78.73 over two days of sales in the sun.
Today I came across this article about an ex-racist and the son of one of the Sikh temple victims who came together to create an educational movement responding to violence with peace. These men are more than courageous. They’ve learned lessons from their lives and are doing something with that knowledge. They are taking hatred to task.
I think about hatred. And how easy it is to hate. And how we’re so steeped in it, we no longer smell its stench. Whether it be race, religion, politics, nationality or gender, we find ways to despise those different from ourselves, and they find reasons to loathe us back. It makes you wonder if the world will ever move forward at this rate. Or if society as a whole will keep succumbing to its basest instincts, not learning and instead regressing until we find ourselves killing each other for no real reason like total barbarians.
Oh, wait. We’re already there.
I don’t know why there is so much violence and hatred in the world. Is it like anything else when we’re born — some people are born with misshaped mouths or unusual ears and others are born with a whacked out moral compass? Is is something we’re taught through generations of ignorance and fear? Is there really an evil force at work? Or is it climate change, like this article suggests?
But there is good in us. I think back to how many people were willing to buy over-sweetened lemonade to help a community in need. Of how once buyers learned their lemonade money was going to the Sikh temple, they paid their 25¢ glass with a five dollar bill and told the kids to keep the change.
Yet no amount of lemonade can bring back the victims. And no amount of lemonade can quench the thirst for justice so many feel.
Not as long as hatred keeps giving us reasons to buy it.