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Hate Has No Place

October 31, 2018

Hate has reared its ugly head again.  In the last week, our country has been shaken by three horrific crimes: the racially motivated murder of two people in and near a grocery store in Kentucky; the delivery of pipe bombs to a whole list of prominent public figures; and the mass murder of 11 people at worship in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, apparently by an anti-Semitic fanatic.  Expressions of hatred towards people just because they practice a different religion, have a different skin color, come from a different place on earth, or hold different political viewpoints, are rampant and mostly unfettered.

Incidents of violence like these set off waves of fear and division, in our already divided society.  Our hearts go out to all the victims and their families who were harmed in these attacks.  In addition, we are concerned for those who fear that they may become victims of such violence in the future, in their own communities. Our concern extends to people in the Lasell community who may be affected by the recent actions and rhetoric, and feel less safe because of a group with which they identify, or because of beliefs they hold.  At Lasell, we aspire to be a community of learners who accept everyone for who they are; we view our differences as an opportunity for deeper learning and an agent of magnetism, rather than polarization. 

Following such repeated violent events, we naturally ask: why do these things keep happening?  Violence overall is in decline in the United States, yet events of extreme violence that involve multiple victims, keep occurring; and these events are all the more hideous because of their arbitrary nature.  The three common factors in most of these cases appears to be (1) hate directed at a class or group of people rather than particular individuals, (2) the easy availability of weapons, and (3) a perpetrator with a history of mental illness, or severe psychological issues. 

Our country's leaders express outrage at these crimes, but seem unwilling or unable to work together. We need our leaders to change the nature of our national discourse to a more civil tone, to limit the ability of unstable people to obtain weapons that can kill many people quickly, and to provide the mental health services that any civilized nation should provide to its inhabitants. 

The ills of society inevitably are magnified on a college campus where so many people live and work in close quarters.  All too often we see the repercussions of our societal failings play out in our community.  Despite our ongoing efforts to address issues on our campus, I believe our progress at Lasell, and at campuses across the country, will continue to be frustrated until the external environment improves. 

What can we do about it?  I can think of only two things that I believe can really make a difference. 

Vote.  Whatever your political or spiritual beliefs, get out and vote for people who accept others for who they are, and who will collaborate with people different than themselves to take collective action to address these crucial problems.  Vote for people who are dedicated to seeking the truth and making policy based on the best knowledge available, and who demonstrate compassion for all people. Love.  Extend yourself to love all people without condition or limit, without reference to national origin, sexual orientation or gender variance, without being influenced by skin color or religious beliefs, and with a dedication to justice and equity for all people. Loving everyone is difficult.  It requires enormous patience and an ability to forgive.  But it is worth the effort. 

For just as hatred turns sour and putrid the insides of those who hate, loving leads to bliss for those who master it.  People as influential and different as Martin Luther King and Garth Brooks preach the power of loving all people, as the one answer that offers hope for a peaceful, compassionate society where we truly care for each other.

For those who would like to show their empathy for the victims and kindness towards others, please join with members of the Lasell community at a short service on Friday, November 2 at 11:00 a.m. around the Peace Pole on Blodgett Green (corner of Woodland Road and Maple Street).  Professor Tom Sullivan will lead the service. 

And please vote. 


Michael B. Alexander