By John L. Horton
“Men hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate, because they are separated.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here we go again. As of late evening, May 14, 2022, 10 persons were killed in a “racially motivated” shooting at a Tops neighborhood supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Officials said the suspected gunman (Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York), a white 18-year-old man, traveled several hours to Buffalo to carry out the attack, which he livestreamed on social media.
The suspect was taken into custody after the attack. The attack took place in a predominantly Black community and 11 of the 13 shooting victims were Black and two whites. The FBI and other law authorities are investigating this incident as both a “hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism.” The suspect had posted a racially motivated manifesto on social media. Meantime, the suspect was arraigned Saturday evening (May 14) on first-degree murder charges.
Later, government authorities and law officials revealed that the shooter’s semi-automatic gun had the N-word written on the barrel in white paint. Also, the number 14 – a known white supremacist slogan, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” was painted on the gun’s barrel. Further, officials are investigating a 180-page manifesto containing racist and anti-Semitic views, and referencing the “replacement theory,” which claims that white people are being replaced by people of color.
The tragedy in Buffalo makes me wonder how an 18-year-old youth can have this much “hatred” in his heart and soul. I have to firmly believe in the sage words and poignant philosophy of Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person, because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Just as striking and noteworthy are the profound words and instructive advice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Men hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.”
Hatred has always been amongst us. It is evil and it kills the human spirit. In the past, hatred has been used to breed divisiveness, disharmony and disunity. Thusly, we can no longer allow hatred to divide Americans along these social, economic and political venues.
In today’s world, we need more camaraderie, commitment and compassion. Together, “we” can make a difference. Together, “we” can do almost anything. Sometimes, there is a need for a society and culture of “we,” instead of a society and culture of “me.”
Let us come together, regardless of political philosophy and social standing and do what is best for America. At this critical time in history, our country “needs” us. She is challenging us to do our very best.
It is time for our politicians (public servants?), corporate managers, financial stakeholders, civic leaders and public citizens to “work together” to put America’s interests (foreign and domestic) first and foremost.
As such, I strongly believe in compromise, sacrifice, fairness, and unity. “We” can get the job done to improve opportunity and to promote responsibility for all Americans. Our history, culture and heritage speak to this “possibility of circumstance.”
We should never allow our partisanship and pettiness to debilitate and/or destroy us. We have come too far and done too much, together. Failure is not an option. We should always remember that no one of us is as important as all of us.
So, let us realize what is at stake here. Depending on our choices and actions, history will either praise or condemn us. It is up to us. Let us “think” about what must be done…what needs to be done. And, let us do what is in the best interests of our America.
In the sage and eloquent words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we must come together in the name of “light and love”: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can.”
Please believe, we don’t need any more hellfire and brimstone. We need unity and utility. We don’t need any more negativity and pessimism. We need positivity and optimism. Together, we can do (almost) anything. For, this is our America.
Sometimes we must put our country’s overall best interests ahead of our party affiliations and individual differences. At times like these, “we” must strive for the common good, general welfare and more perfect union.
In closing, I would like to repeat the salient and succinct words of Alexis de Tocqueville: “…Those that despise people will never get the best out of others and themselves…The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults…”
Accordingly, I firmly believe that united as Americans, we can overcome hatred. Yes, we can!
John L. Horton is a resident of Norfolk and frequent contributor to this newspaper.