The latest horrors to speak of took place in Virginia Beach, when a whole group of innocent, good Americans went to work expecting just another ordinary day, nothing exceptionally dramatic or dangerous. Instead, they were gunned down in yet another of the mass killings which continue to litter the American heartland with heaps of victims. Now, Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton follow in a tragically short order.
I must first offer a mea culpa, for after the murders of the worshippers of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Chabad House in Poway, California, I fell “hook, line and sinker” for the idea that America, like Europe, was transforming into an anti-Semitic country; and that because Jews were now being targeted, differences between European and American anti-Semitism were becoming much too clouded.
I must admit that this is not the case. It isn’t that America has become anti-Semitic, because this couldn’t be further from the truth. America is a decent, generous and argumentatively compassionate country that has shared so much goodness with so many within its borders. It has nurtured righteous, passionate and compassionate levels of democracy and economic fraternity to its citizens no matter the ethnic differences and the cultural divides.
However, individual Americans, filled with either excessive levels of rage, vengeance or hatred – or just a psychopathic need for notoriety – direct all their toxic anger and fear against their fellow citizens. The result? American institutions and workplaces that we take for granted as safe become a battleground. Our concern must be that American individuals can harbor such violent tendencies against innocents; that anyone who gets in the way will be targeted and become the next in a series of horrific killings for no apparent reason.
The irony is that such massacres are perpetrated, not by large groups wanting to maximize their murderous intentions, as in the World Trade Center attack on 9/11. They are committed by ordinary individuals harboring a grudge and seeking an outlet to reflect their anger. The saddest reality is that such acts of random murder will continue in America against anyone who stands in the way of the next series of bullets released from the next gun-toting killer – be they children, regular decent Americans, Christians, Jews – the list is endless given the choices available to these sick-minded perpetrators.
These acts of random violence seem to define the norm in America today. And there seems to be no end to what will happen in the future. When will the next ordinary day explode into yet another massacre against innocent Americans?
But there is hope. The truth is that America is filled with so many good people of all ethnicities and faiths – heroes doing so many acts of kindness and chesed (a Hebrew word which epitomizes the highest levels of goodness. These are the people who should be pointed out in the media for their magnificent contributions, assistance and kindness towards others. They are the ones who should be acknowledged for their overflowing levels of goodness and limitless acts of generosity.
We may never be able to stop future acts of violence, but we should always fill our lives, and those of others, with the gratitude of life’s gifts, and spread our true humanity through the gentle greeting, the kind word and the desire to uplift the lives of others.