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That diabolical four-letter word

There is a disturbing trend in this country: hate. From the rhetoric coming out of the White House on a daily basis to the lack of tolerance among different religious and racial groups around the country, hate is on the rise.

The Pittsburgh temple shooting on Saturday, Oct. 27, is but one example of how outrageous some of our behavior has become. Upon entering the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, suspected gunman Robert Bowers reportedly said he wanted to kill all Jews. The 46-year-old now stands accused of killing 11 and wounding six. It’s being investigated as a hate crime, and if convicted, Bowers faces up to 44 counts, some punishable by death.

Just days before, there were two other disturbing events: two African-Americans were shot and killed at a grocery store and a number of bombs were sent to key Democrats and critics of President Trump.

The two people murdered at a Kroger supermarket in Kentucky were allegedly shot by a white man who had tried to get into a predominantly African-American church hours before. As a security camera showed, he was unsuccessful — the doors to the church were locked. If he was just a little earlier, there would have been a full house — upwards of 70 people — attending services.

According to investigators, Gregory Bush, 51, chose his victims at the supermarket because they were black. It’s being looked into it as a potential hate crime and civil rights violation. 

A Louisville resident told the Courier-Journal that he was crouched in the store’s parking lot with his own gun when Bush passed him and said, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”

Unfortunately, he had no problem with whites shooting blacks.

Mail bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc, meanwhile, allegedly sent 15 package bombs to top Democrats and opponents of the president from his van in South Florida. Sayoc reportedly had a list of more than 100 people he wanted to send bombs to — bombs that were very real, though none detonated among those he did send. And while Sayoc is said to have told investigators he didn’t want to hurt anyone according to one report, he certainly could have. His van, plastered with images of Democratic targets and pro-Trump graffiti, shows impatience for people with political views different than his own.

Again, where is the tolerance that this country was built upon? Where is the understanding, the empathy, the acceptance? 

In today’s political climate, when the leader of the free world hurls insults and accusations so freely — is it any wonder that our political views are so barbed? Does it really come as a surprise that our anger is boiling over, our views edging to the extreme? Whether it’s racial prejudice, religious intolerance, sexual discrimination or political infighting, we are headed in the wrong direction. It spells trouble for our future.

We need to find a common thread — a shared purpose — to help bring people together. We don’t all have to agree, but we do have to respect each other. In this country, especially, every citizen should feel safe, protected. America should be showing the world that it accepts all people, regardless of their differences. That’s the basis upon which our nation was built all those years ago — and it’s the philosophy we should continue to embrace today.

It all boils down to understanding. We need to understand that despite any differences, people are all basically the same. We want to live peacefully; we want to be successful, to be respected. It starts at the top, in Washington, D.C., where the example should be set. From there, good behavior should trickle down and reach every corner of our world. It’s a lot to hope for, but without such goals people could rightly be denied a chance at the good life — something everyone deserves a shot at pursuing.