(oversimplification alert)

It starts innocently enough.

A friend posts a story that makes up details and marginalizes one group of people at the expense of another and I repost it…

Or… I share my prejudices with my child in an angry fashion, so that they pick it up and believe the same thing… even though the story that I read and reposted and then read aloud to my son was innacurate in the first place. I might even say that I don’t think a particular kind of person deserves to live.

Now my son sees the world through a lens that is tainted by lies, fear, prejudice and a sense that the world is against him and he sets his teeth on edge and then seethes quietly, raging inside against a world that actually doesn’t exist, but I made real enough in my hate and anger and fear and prejudice that it is now the only world that exists for him.

So then he sits at the back of a church for an hour waiting to open fire.

And I caused it.

I warned you I was going to oversimplify. I don’t know a thing about the man who actually killed those great saints of God in a church last night, or his father. I do know about the hate-mongering, fear-mongering, prejudice-mongering and general antisocial dysfunction that litters the media, social and otherwise, every day.

No, I have no idea how this young man came to the conclusion that killing was an answer, and I don’t mean to say that the above scenario caused what happened last night. I am saying that whether a young man chooses love or hate can be heavily influenced by something outside himself, that he allows and causes to fester and grow inside him into a sickness (which doesn’t mean this man shouldn’t spend the rest of his life in a locked room).

I am saying that when we continue in this misguided notion that there is a “them” and “us” based on skin color, religion, gender or sexuality, economic status, ethnicity, or any other external distinction, we forget that we are all one race, human. I suspect this young man didn’t realize that anymore, even if he knows it deep down.

When we foster hate and allow it to be the determining factor in the decisions we make about the actions we take, we are destroying ourselves, our race, our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers.

Sometimes literally.

So… here’s a suggestion for you.

Love.

Intentionally.

Love someone who is different from you. Do this on purpose. Foster love. Allow it to control your actions. Give it free reign.

Or, as Saint Paul said in Colossians 3…

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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