I find myself playing the course of the events in Charlottesville over and over in my head, wondering how terrorism of this magnitude was allowed to happen.
Was this inside act of destruction done so under the umbrella of “freedom of speech”? Dressed in the metaphoric sheep’s clothes we seemingly trust the notion of free expression under the guise of red, white and blue, though we know there is a wolf underneath, simply exploiting what we trust in order to instigate hateful acts.
We as a country have let down our guard, and that compromises everyone’s freedom.
The white supremacist people who came to Charlottesville do not represent the America that most Americans know.
They do not have the souls of an Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Martin Luther King. They have the souls of terrorists.
Our instinct may be to look to leadership to take control of shutting down these racist activities, in the way we look to leadership to protect America from acts of terror. The reality is that as Americans, we must all have a voice in ending this kind of domestic terrorism. We must engage leadership at every level, and become leaders ourselves.
Hate touches us all. We can have a voice by not allowing that hate to breathe anywhere — in social media, on the internet, in conversation, in politics.
We know too well the harm that words can do, and why hate, not unlike cancer, must be stopped before it starts.
How do we do it? We need to leave our comfort zones. We must join hands with people we don’t always agree with but unite and agree to end the hate. Most Americans wish to help their neighbors; that is who we are, and that’s how we operate. The weekend act of terrorism does not define who we are, but rather it defines what we are not, and it must never happen again. No matter what your day job is, we have other responsibilities: we owe it to the previous generations who fought for freedom for all, and to our children who deserve a country that is truly a “land of the free”.
In my work as a leader in the work to bridge the gaps in public health, I am drawn to my job as a person who can bring many sides together, all with the goal of protecting people’s health.
We must protect our brothers and sisters no matter the color of their skin, sexuality, gender, religion. President John Kennedy once said, “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”
Love your American brothers and sisters. Love them all.