Apparently not enough people were horrified at the end of World War II when the Nazi concentration camps were liberated and appalling photographs of the emaciated, suffering victims emerged, together with the truth of the killings of millions of human beings. These were people killed for who they were, not for anything they did or didn’t do, not for guilt nor any supposed threat to humanity.
Apparently a good many white parents of United States soldiers who had been sent overseas to fight the Nazis went right on teaching their children to believe that they were better than any other races, and that their religion made them better people than people of any other religion or of no religion, and that this or that attitude made them better than people with a different attitude or way of living.
Apparently too many of those soldiers came home and lapsed into bigoted ways themselves, despite what they’d fought and why they’d fought. Apparently they passed along their attitudes to their children and their grandchildren.
This past year has seen the rise of such people in greater numbers than I could ever have believed were possible, after all that we’ve seen in our lifetimes, after all that we know. And this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, we saw the hatred these people have nurtured and cultivated, grown into a terribly powerful wave, engulfing and destroying the love and inclusiveness that should be the hallmark of our society.
I know we haven’t headed into the utopian society that some of us in the 1960s envisioned for our futures. I know that my white privilege has blinded me to how much of this is unsurprising to my brothers and sisters of color here in the United States. I’m ashamed that I haven’t yelled louder, written more forcefully, fought harder against this evil that is threatening us all. I don’t really know how.
But I do know how to write, and I must do what I can.
There can be no justification for prejudice, no rational way to describe bigotry, no mitigating circumstances explaining the subjugation of and discrimination against human beings by other human beings.
It’s wrong. It’s evil.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today issued a statement that said in part, “White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them.” Their statement quoted Jesus explaining to His disciples the first and second great commandments in religious law: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37–39).
There is no greater way to fight evil than to spread love.
I don’t mean that you must not fight back. But I do know that love conquers all; that fighting while using love is different from fighting with hatred as a motivation.
Tomorrow when you go out and meet people in the course of your day, love everyone you meet. Fight your own tendency to be annoyed with the people who make mistakes in
driving, the people who force you to take evasive action, the folks who delay you when you’re in a hurry, the people who want to talk to you when you’re trying to concentrate, that person at work who does everything wrong.
What’s harder is when you have made an enemy, and that person vows to get even with you, or works to destroy you before you can be the one doing the destroying. You have to get a grip on yourself, eradicate revenge from your nature, and turn around. You have to figure out how to make that person into your friend. It may be the hardest challenge you’ve ever accepted, but it can be done if you want it badly enough. You have to use every ounce of imagination, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and energy. Sometimes you’ll think you’ll never succeed, that the bitterness has just plain gone too deep and can never be eliminated. But I say it can, even if it takes years and years and years. I think the end result is worth any effort.
Work to love them. Your love is the most powerful force in the world and it will spread its influence to every single person with whom you come in contact, and you will be known as the person who spreads peace all around you.
If enough people do this, the world will change for the better. We will win this war.