In the movie The Highlander, Ramirez tells MacLeod, ” You are safe only on Holy Ground. None of us will violate that law.” And law it has been, since the beginning of time. This is why you see those heartwarming news photos of Christians forming prayer circles around Muslim meetings, etc. Men and women from all over the globe, especially here in the U.S., have fought with their hearts and lives so that we as human beings can worship/meditate/truth as we are called to. As we need to. Yes, there are laws on the books reflecting this, but it has traditionally been a law of the heart. Of conscience. Of humanity. From what i know of such things, the law remains. It’s our heart, conscience, and humanity that have disappeared.
Nine people murdered. A staggering tragedy in just those three words. Add in the fact that those people were all members of a single race, and the perpetrator a member of a different race. It has become a “Hate Crime”. (By the way, i despise that term, “Hate Crime”. Murder of any kind is a hate crime, isn’t it? It’s not like we murder people for other reasons.)
Next, add in the perpetrator’s age. 21 years old. Barely an adult. And in the footage of him being escorted to a police vehicle, he is smiling. SMILING. He had made the comment in the church that he was doing what he had to do… But his smile seems more apropos to someone who wanted to make himself bigger britches. There are people who will blame this on gun laws and the fact that he owned one. Nonsense. There are thousands of gun owners in Charleston, many just as young as he, and none of them are orchestrating such horror. The violence wasn’t in the gun. It is in his head. The man is sick. And no, that is not an excuse. Just an observation of an adult male, raised and educated in the Land of Opportunity, who takes actions without heart or moral compass.
Now add in the setting. The man, and i use that term loosely, sat with these people, prayed with these people, in a church. Holy ground. The place where we are all supposed to be safe. All throughout history of mankind, churches (and synagogues, and mosques, and temples) have been places of peace. It is where the hungry go to be fed, the homeless go to be sheltered, the broken-hearted go to be healed. Communing with God/Goddess/Universe should be a time when there is no need to watch the door for crazed gunmen. Or, as i read in an article today, “There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture,” (Cornell William Brooks) No greater coward, and no greater violation.
The icing on this accursed cake is the fact that this isn’t the first time a black church has been violated. During the dark periods of our nation’s history, it was “logical” for white supremacists to burn down a black church. If you want to kill black people, go to where they gather without weapons. Machiavelli and Hitler would be proud. The rest of us? We are stabbed straight thru the heart.
Because the rest of us, the bulk of us, anyway, still have a soul. I’m not black. I’m not a Christian. And i’m not from Charleston. But my soul aches for those families. To be honest, i ache for our nation as a whole. Each era has the weak masses, following the indictable leaders like imprinted offspring, abusing the undesirables of the day. Over time, it has gotten easier to stand against the tide of mistreatment and speak up for our assorted neighbors. But one would have hoped that, after all this time, there wouldn’t be a need.
I believe in existential evolution. That, in theory, as our physical selves evolve, so do our minds and spirits. In the face of the Charleston massacre, and the litany of other heartless rampages that have plagued us as a nation, it is difficult to maintain this belief. The overwhelmingly vast majority of people in my life, whether i share their general code of ethics or not, are good people. Honorably intentioned. Truly human. Truly humane. But the regular barrage of bloodthirsty savagery that appears in the news makes me wonder if my friends and acquaintances are representative of the general population, or if i have simply surrounded myself with people whose hearts swell like mine. I know of no one who could walk into a church, sit for prayer, and then slaughter the congregation. It’s as if there are Kurgans among us.
Maybe it’s the media, with it’s greedy eye, that alters my growing dark perception. The joyful stories rarely make it to the headlines. It takes evil and gore to own a time slot. Maybe if journalist gurus gave the angels as much due as the devil, our country wouldn’t seem to be on the fast track to hell without even the benefit of a handbasket. The good in our country surely outweighs the bad. The benefactors outnumber the murderers. The smiles outpower the tears. Humanity usually outshines the merciless. Most of the time, the scale tips to the side of love.
If only it didn’t regularly tip the other way.