Like many on Aug. 12, I was engaged in tasks that kept me busy outside and connected to iTunes instead of Twitter. I was catching up on what already had happened in Charlottesville when the state police helicopter crashed. Someone tweeted, "This day could still get worse." And it did. Three people died: a young protestor and the two officers in the helicopter who were flying in to assist.
In the aftermath, many of us were disappointed in President Trump's response, which seemed to grow worse the more he spoke. "When your comments draw praise from David Duke, it's time to rethink your position," one person observed on social media. Some were surprised to learn how prevalent hate groups are in the U.S. -- 917 nationwide and 16 are documented right here in Arkansas, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center: https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map.
So where do we go from here? I suggest taking the advice of the family of Heather Heyer, who was killed while protesting against the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Channel your anger into "righteous action."
“The truth is we’re all going to have our differences, we’re all going to be angry with each other,” Susan Bro told more than 1,000 people Wednesday at a memorial service at Charlottesville’s Paramount Theater. “Let’s channel that anger not into hate, not into violence, not into fear, but let’s channel that anger into righteous action.”
Instead of quieting the young woman, the octave was raised, her mother said. “They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what? You just magnified her,” she said, as the crowd stood in applause. “I’d rather have my child, but by golly if I gotta give her up, we’re gonna make it count.”
Indeed. Find your passion. Get involved. Make a difference.
Heyer's father, grandfather and co-workers remembered the 32-year-old paralegal as a compassionate advocate for her views. “She wanted fairness, she wanted justice, she wanted everybody to get equal respect,” said Elwood Shrader.
Her father, Mark Heyer, called for an end to the violence -- and forgiveness. “We just need to stop all this stuff and just forgive each other,” he said through tears at the memorial. “I think that’s what the Lord would want us to do. Just love one another.”
I agree with all three of them. If anyone needs a primer on how to put that advice into action, I suggest opening your Bibles to Matthew 5-7 and considering Jesus' teachings from the Sermon on the Mount.
The Beattitudes in Matt. 5:3-10 focus on His message of humility, charity, and brotherly love. When the concept of love, not hate, is embraced peace can be seen on the horizon. That may require some inner transformation for some, but it is doable if hearts and minds are in the right places. Regardless of faith or religious affiliation, we all can turn our moral compasses to kindness. Do what is right and just. Help our fellow man. If nothing else, be kind. That is something everyone can do.
We don't have to agree, but surely we can share this great country of ours and be good neighbors.
Shea Wilson is the former managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @sheawilson7.