Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Righteous Emptiness

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As I was riding the bus back to Kansas City on Sunday, the news was breaking of shots fired at the Jewish Community Center and another facility not far from where I live. As I got closer, the news resolved into the fact that three people had been shot and killed. Speculation was that it was a hate crime. By the next day, the identity of the shooter and his victims were known.

The suspect is a white supremacist who has written at length about his anti-Semitic views. And his victims are three white people who weren't Jewish. They were a grandson and grandfather, and a mother of three.

I really want to laugh in the face of this 70-year old man who thought he was achieving some small part of racial purity. I want to mock him until the end of his days for spending his whole life being angry, then failing to do anything to advance his cause in what he may consider his moment of triumph. I want him to know that his concept of identifying "what makes someone Jewish" being "anyone near a building that sounds Jewish" is so misguided that his footnote in history will be people making fun of him and his name for the rest of time.

But a more considered reaction followed all this hot-blooded self-righteousness and horrified anxiety. He did accomplish something: the deaths of three innocent people. Those victims have families and communities that mourn them. They weren't Jewish, but they are loved and missed by the world at large.

And then my opinion of the killer changes. I just want him to be as far away from me as possible, so I don't have the chance to be touched by his bile. I want him to be thrown into a deep hole and forgotten about.

If convicted, he will spend the rest of his life in jail, one way or the other: until his natural end, or until the state can execute him. His death, natural or accelerated, will not solve anything. The dead will remain dead. The hate that drove him will continue, lurking in another heart that may also overflow at some future time.

It remains for us to take note of the lesson and make sure that our values and principles are the ones that are passed on to the generations going forward.

[This entry concerns the events related to the shooting at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in Overland Park, KS in April of 2014. Wiki =]

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