Recent terrorist attacks, like the one that happened this past Saturday, provoke the same emotions out of innocent strangers that are harbored within the people who act out on them—anger and fear. Since the last election, protests and various community demonstrations have increasingly had acts of terror, civil disorder and racism, perhaps because the lack of compassion towards each other, feelings of nonacceptance, and believing that racial equality is a threat is exactly what terrorists like this feed on, and it helps to expand their base.
I’m sure you probably have heard of the Charlotteville, Virginia “Unite the Right” Rally / Rally against confederate monuments being taken down that quickly went awry the afternoon of August 12, 2017 by now. Protesters from all around the country drove in the state bringing their weapons and their tiki torches, and with the thick mix of hate speech, hostility soon got out of hand. Two police officers died after a crash while surveying the demonstrations by helicopter, and a man plowed his Dodge Challenger into into counter-protesters, killing one woman named Heather Hayer, and injuring over a dozen more. Officials have since identified the suspect as James Alex Fields Jr, a 20 year old guy from Maumee, Ohio who tried to flee afterward but was quickly caught by police. Like so many other protests before this one, it culminated in senseless death and violence, leaving 19 injured in the car incident alone. The victims were of many different races, and backgrounds.
The president tweeted a few messages on Twitter, and also made a brief statement to press and the country following the attack, in which he did not at all call out by name the specific groups that were involved, stating in part:
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.”
It would be easy to let incidents like what happened in Charlotteville, Virginia or in Ferguson, Missouri, or Toledo, Ohio, or any of the many other past protests that have ended in violence and rioting dictate how we voice our opinions in the future – to stop us from wanting to assemble together and express our freedom of speech for absolutely anything that is important to us. It might even be expected that people would let uncertainty and fear kick in, deciding rather to lump everyone who is a different race or culture than their own into prejudices of negativity, bigotry and hatred in the days following a tragedy such as this. But when confronted with that inclination, we must remember the ultimate goal of terrorism—namely, to produce widespread fear, gain national attention, negatively influence the Government, and to force their hateful ideology and beliefs onto everyone including you, regardless if you agree with them or not.
Don’t let them do that.
Live a life of no fear. Hold your head up high and don’t be afraid to speak up or stand up for yourself. Never look down on others. Have faith, because at this point it may get worse before it gets better. Be Positive. If your religious, don’t forget to pray. Trust that we can do better as a country, and make sure that you do your part to make a positive difference to someone else and also in your communities. Showing respect, earns respect. Be responsible. Show compassion. And, most importantly, LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Hate can’t win. If hate wins, then we ALL LOSE.