Waking up to my spouse crying is not experience I’d like to repeat.
In case you’ve been disconnected from the news for the past two days, or you’re just living under a rock and don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s an article from CNN to get you up to speed.
And in case you don’t know anything about Pittsburgh, PA or Squirrel Hill, the community where this shooting occurred, let me tell you about us. We’re not a sleepy or backwards town. We’re a fully in-the-now city with a Google office and companies who are world leaders in biotech. Squirrel Hill is a close-knit community just outside of the city with a large Jewish population, some conservative, some not.
When I was in college and for a few years after, I lived on the edge of Squirrel Hill and Shadyside. I was frequently in the shops, restaurants, and bars in Squirrel Hill. I regularly said hello to the Hasidic Jewish families headed to prayer on the Sabbath.
So you can imagine how I felt yesterday morning when I awoke to my spouse telling me that a man with a gun (a white man, I’ll add) walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill yesterday morning and started shooting people, one of whom was a 97 year old Holocaust survivor.
You read that right. This woman survived the Nazi Party in Germany, only to be gunned down by another white supremacist some 80 years later in her house of worship.
That disgusts me.
Hate of this kind has no place in our modern world. Hating someone for their religion, the color of their skin, their sexual identity or gender expression, or any other stupid reason you can name is a ridiculous thing when there are millions of real problems one can concern themselves with. Like climate change. Like poverty. Like war.
Hell, like who will win the World Series.
The people in that synagogue didn’t deserve to be gunned down by a man they had never met nor had ever wronged. I am thankful that the Pittsburgh SWAT team was able to act quickly and subdue the gunman before he could kill more people than he did. But even a few lost to gun violence and hate is too many.
My heart hurts for the families of the victims, and I am glad they are getting the support they need from our city and Governor Wolf. And I don’t intend to offer them nothing more than thoughts and prayers like some people.
Thoughts and prayers are useless when this kind of thing keeps happening across multiple groups of people, all over our country. I’m putting my convictions to good use on Election Day (Nov. 6th, don’t forget!) and sending a message to the politicians that keep allowing these things to happen with their inaction and with their outright support for hate groups.
And if you think that standing up and saying enough is enough like I am is me “getting political”, I think you need to ask yourself what it means to be a decent human being.
Does that mean throwing your hands up and pretending there’s nothing you can do to change the way our world is headed? Or does it mean standing up and saying I’m not okay with hatred and violence of this kind?
For me, it’s an easy choice. I’m standing up and saying I’m not okay with hatred and violence of this kind.