Friday, June 19, 2015

The past repeats

It's said that history repeats itself. So now Charleston has revisited its history with the killing of 9 people in one of the city's most historic churches.  The church, Emanuel AME, was burned after one of the church's founders organized a slave uprising in 1822.  Worship services continued after the church was rebuilt until 1834 when all black churches were outlawed. The congregation continued the tradition of the African church by worshipping underground until 1865 when it was formally reorganized, and the name Emanuel was adopted, meaning "God with us".

I, like so many, don't understand how a person could be among good people for an hour and then shoot them.  I don't understand what is in the mind of someone so filled with hate.  Some have said that the confessed killer should not be called "mentally disturbed".  I see anyone who hates as mentally disturbed. Not as a defense for an action but simply a statement that those who spend so much energy filled with hate are depleted in their humanness. I am tired of the hatred expressed in social media, on TV, and radio shows--the threats and ignorant jokes about the President, gays, liberals, and anyone that doesn't espouse the same ideals.

I was born in the South.  I grew up during the time of early integration.  And I was appalled at the hatred shown towards people of color.  Nothing much has changed.  Racism was still festering and for many years in this country, people were not overt about it.  There was forced politeness.  But in the last decade, especially since President Obama has been in office,  hatred and intolerance of those who believe, look, or act different from someone else has exploded.

I have read so many political comments on social media and in print over the past few years that I have been shocked and appalled at the hatred out there.  I know who they are too. They are people that I went to first grade with, people who live in my community, people who I have known for years.  And yet to them, I am a Libtard, a socialist,  a "nigger" lover.  It hurts my heart.

Very sad that such an appalling tragedy has visited our community. We cannot live in a racially divided country again. No more. Stand up and speak up when you hear or see intolerance.  I refuse to listen to slurs and hateful comments about anyone. I refuse to be passive when faced with overt bigotry and racism.  I want to make my actions clear so that there is no doubt about my boundaries.

I feel numb about what has happened here.  Yet, I am not shocked by the events in this city and state that I now call home.  It was just a matter of time that the picture perfect post card of a city would revisit its violent past.  Charleston is touted as number one in tourism.  It is a beautiful city, and there are good people who live here. But there is another side of this old city that isn't beautiful.  I sadly don't expect much from anyone anymore. All I can do is try to shed a little light and do my best on this journey to show compassion and love.  


  1. Loved this: "Stand up and speak up when you hear or see intolerance. I refuse to listen to slurs and hateful comments about anyone. I refuse to be passive when faced with overt bigotry and racism. I want to make my actions clear so that there is no doubt about my boundaries."

    A tragedy very close to home for you, Syd. Keep clear of the haters. The chill that went through me when I saw that Rhodesian flag and all it connotes of white supremacist ideology made me realise again what a very small world this is.

  2. Your second paragraph, especially, says what I've been trying to say. We cannot use "mentally disturbed" as a defense but the fact remains- anyone who has that much hate in them and who acts on it in such a way is, without a doubt, some kind of insane.

  3. Syd, Thank you for this wonderful piece of writing. I can add nothing.

  4. Sid, thanks for your perspective. We all pray for Charleston at this difficult time.

  5. Syd,

    As a volunteer at the jail, I often see that the level of either physical, sexual or emotional abuse that a person endures tends to correlate to their level of "hardness". I don't say that to excuse or to say that qualifies as mental illness because I am not a professional and do not know the medical or legal definitions of those terms. I only say it as a way of understanding....and I say that loosely. We are a mixed up world. I also live in the south and understand the racism that still exists. I'm sorry that you are so close to this recent violence.

  6. Oh Syd, this world we live in...It all feels too sad some days.

  7. I am grateful, in this darkness, you are letting the candle of your values shine. I, too, am distressed. It is inconceivable, the senseless murder of nine who had welcomed the killer to their Bible Study.

    You, the families harmed and Charleston have my prayers.


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