It’s unusually difficult for me to articulate exactly what I’m thinking and feeling. I guess I’m still in a bit of shock. I’ve experienced the violent effects of hate several times in my past, but it hasn’t come this close to home in some time. I stood for a long moment behind our little barn and stared into the dark, cold, October sky while I tried to figure out recent events. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t figure out what the difference was; the difference that makes a person commit to such an extreme, unalterable course of action. What sends a person across that line? I’d always looked at conviction as a good thing but now had to grapple with how a good thing could also be quite horrible.
When we look up into the night sky, all of us in the Northern Hemisphere see the same stars. We all look at the stars in the same way. To us, stars look like tiny points of light. Truth is, that light came from a huge heavenly body and took years to reach us. When we look at those tiny points of light, our ideologies don’t matter. Our political affiliations don’t matter. Our ethnicities don’t matter. We’re looking at the same things and seeing the same things. We are, at that moment, very much alike.
But, there are some people who focus more on our differences than on our similarities. They allow those differences to generate fear and that fear to cultivate hate. Maybe they’re starstruck by the charm and charisma of some celebrity ideologue. The conviction to commit and blindly follow that motivator’s doctrine doesn’t develop overnight but rather, like the long journey of starlight, takes years to grow. Once committed to a doctrine of fear and hate, a person bent on evil is capable of terrible acts.
Because of one of those terrible acts, we’re seeing more stars in cemeteries; Stars of David. The sight makes my blood pressure rise and my chest ache until I see stars; the senseless waste of human life boggles my mind. As I read the short biographies of the victims from the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, I began to realize many of them were bright stars in their communities; their accomplishments and contributions to their communities and to the world long and far reaching just like starlight. One of them was a Holocaust survivor. There’s some irony.
I wish there was some way events like the synagogue shooting could be prevented in the future. Gun control won’t make the difference. Places here and abroad have very tough gun regulations and gun violence still exists. There has to be a change in hearts. At Givat Haviva in Northern Israel, a summer camp called “Soccer for Peace” brings Jewish and Arab youth together to focus on their common passion for soccer. Cultural renewal then leads to spiritual renewal. Bridges are built, and barriers are knocked down. Fear is diffused in the hope hate will fail to germinate. My hope is we could restore and increase civil discourse, especially with those we might disagree with, and learn together to see each other and the stars through the eyes of the One who made them and us.
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