We cannot tolerate hate
Like everyone, I am appalled at the murder of nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. I am even more horrified that the crime was based upon race. All crime is evil. It harms not only the victims and their families, but the very foundation of a free and civilized society. Crimes based upon hate go even further and cause greater damage in that the motivations as well as the actions of hate crimes seek to divide us. They seek to divide us based upon ill-conceived and false notions of a supposedly bygone era. Sadly, they are usually somewhat successful in riling up a very few to engage in misguided actions, even in our own community. This cannot be tolerated.
Such crimes also reveal a troubling state of one’s heart. We cannot control everyone’s heart, nor, unfortunately, their actions. We can, however, control both our own actions and our reactions to such crimes and actions. These actions do not need to, and we must not let them, turn back the hands of time. We cannot let such actions salt old wounds or fester old emotions and feelings of any race. We need to continue to press onward and look upward, and continue good dialogue.
How do we act? We not only need to forgive and pray for the misguided souls like the congregation at Emanuel AME Church did, but we need to join hand to hand across the aisles like those at St. Peter’s Church of Christ here in Smithfield several weeks ago; we need to stand for and live by the proposition that all men are created equal, none better than the other; we need to help one another; and we need to pray for one another. In sum, we need to do as we are commanded, to love one another. In the words of the late Charles Kuralt in a commencement address to the 1985 graduates at UNC-Chapel Hill, we must be “a conspiracy of good people.” We must “be sensitive enough to feel supreme tenderness toward others” and “strong enough to show it.”
How do we react? In addition to forgiveness, prayer and good dialogue, we must state that such actions cannot and will not be tolerated, and we must live by that example. Many thanks to our law enforcement for their diligence. Actions of hate must not be tolerated, and if they are, then hatred will define us and tear us apart, and a few misguided souls will prevail over the vast majority.
As I have said many times, I am proud to call Smithfield home. We are a great community full of good people of all races and ethnic backgrounds, and we have been for a long time. Our diversity is a great asset. If you do not believe me, go to Smithfield-Selma High School and watch our young people of great diversity work together and accomplish great things. You will be proud. I am.
Let’s celebrate our diversity and be united by our commonality. We cannot let signs of long ago (signs of a very few) define who we are. We cannot let current actions of a very few define who we are.
Emery D. Ashley