Letter to the Editor: There is another viral pandemic spreading across America. It’s called hatred.
There should be no question that a virus is alive and well in the soul of America. The sores and blemishes of white nationalism, xenophobia, white supremacy and hatred for “the other” are exposed for all to see. The sickness of this nation is heard in ugly chants at rallies, described in hate-filled manifestos, discussed in disturbing online forums, painted with pictures of carnage in the press and even served up with dinner at the table talk of many family gatherings.
There is certainly a virus in the soul of America. But does this mean we have lost our soul?
It would be easy to simply blame the virus symptom bearers, those who encourage and espouse hate. It would be easy to blame those who, with increasing frequency, escalate to assault weapon massacres of our fellow citizens. But we must become willing to look and explore far deeper than the symptom bearers if we are to find our soul. For instance, to simply blame the current President would be to shirk taking a close look at the large portion of America’s populous for whom his language of the virus rings true. And, most importantly, to simply blame the symptom bearers and carriers of the virus would continue to render us distracted from looking inward at our own soul and its complicity, at this nation’s collective soul and its current state.
In his “I Have a Dream Speech,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. captured the Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi principle of satyagraha when he said “we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” In its simplest form, the idea is that only good can overcome evil. When we think about the virus infecting the soul of America, then we know it can only be the good in our collective soul that will ever cure the evil of our virus.
This brings me back to the question: Where has the soul of America gone? Perhaps what we really need to be asking ourselves is: where has the good – the love, compassion, quest for a just society, positive regard for humanity – where has it gone? Where is our nation’s soul force? Where is it in me?
An Op Ed from the PA Human Relations Commission
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