The almost daily headlines reveal stomach-churning stories of hate.
The killing of a man of Indian heritage and wounding of another in Kansas City, accompanied by a yell of “get out of my country;” threats against Jewish community centers and schools; toppling of headstones in a St. Louis Jewish cemetery; a burning of a mosque in Victoria, Texas; desecration of black churches in the South; a shooting of a Sikh man in Seattle, again with the cry of “go back to your own country.”
These stories and more also reveal a reverse side of who we are as a people. They also reveal the goodness in the hearts of a majority of Americans, across ethnic and religious lines.
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Members of a mosque in St. Louis raised thousands of dollars to help repair the damage in the Jewish cemetery. The rabbi of the only synagogue in Victoria offered that space for the Muslim community to hold their services, and a plea for help netted more than a million dollars.
This expanding form of generous and caring responses represents a growing sentiment that we cannot allow the cruel acts of a few to become the legacy of a generation; that we must lift our voices in support of an open and compassionate society.
President Donald Trump in his address to Congress finally got around to speaking of these violent incidents, adding that they “remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all forms.”
And later he added this line: “We are one people, with one destiny.”
Now the hope is that actions in Washington, from the administration and Congress, will reflect the words he spoke and they just won’t be type on a teleprompter, some feel-good moments amidst hours spent turning back the clock on progress.
We are one people, and we make up a mosaic created from every neighborhood across the globe; every act of discrimination, regardless of whom it is aimed at, chips away at that mosaic.
We are one people, and we should strive to affirm our faith in a common goal of making our Constitution a living testimony in the pursuit of equality and justice so that all people will be recognized and will have an opportunity to be heard.
We are one people, and together we can free ourselves from fear and create a society in which the furnaces of bitterness will no longer burn, and we can learn from each other’s cultural differences and beliefs.
We are one people, and we know that with the right kind of leadership, the kind that is currently missing in action, we can replace the dissonance we are experiencing with a symphony of care for each other.
We are one people, and yet it is so easy to keep millions starving for the bread of hope so that a precious few can continue to overflow their closets.
Yes, we are one people, but we are also members of a family.
It was the wonderful poet Carl Sandburg who once wrote these words:
“There is only one man in the world and his name is all men.
“There is only one woman in the world and her name is all women.
“There is only one child in the world and the child’s name is all children.
“This, then, is the family of man.”
But there can be no family until we have a society that embraces all people, until discrimination in any form is deleted from our behavior, until we heal the wounds that divide us.
Gregory Favre is the former executive editor of The Sacramento Bee and retired vice president of news for The McClatchy Co. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.