Thankfully, the immediate reaction of our communities in the aftermath of the Tree of Life synagogue murders was to come together in support of those grieving and in condemnation of this vile cowardly act.
Together we wring our hands and ask how this can happen in America when in truth we know it is ever-present in a sub-culture we choose to ignore until we are directly facing it. We distance ourselves from those things we fear and those with whom we disagree.
Do we care to understand how these murderers are created? Surely their hate is not inherent in DNA, it must be learned. It is passed on from one generation to the next, creating a cycle of blind hate.
Resolution cannot be found “preaching to the choir.” It is not enough to condemn the cycle of bigoted prejudice. We each must seek it out where it exists, understand its roots and disrupt the cycle with the same empathy we have shown the Tree of Life congregation. Outreach with truth, understanding, education and a willingness to listen are the only tools with any hope of success.
Unless we are willing to establish a dialogue by speaking of our own fears and prejudices with those whom we do not agree the cycle will remain unbroken.
The perpetrator of these murders may well deserve and likely will receive the death penalty. It will not prevent the next such act of violence.
It is only by directly confronting religious, ethnic and racial hatred at its source that we may all eventually learn to live in harmony.
David M. Ginsburg