A YEAR LATER

This was written one month after the shootings at Mother Emanuel AME Church.

“Evil is such an elusive quality…But no matter how you slice it, the earth itself isn’t evil, and neither is the sky or the sea. Evil always begins and ends with man.”
“The Dead Play On”-Heather Graham

“Evil always begins and ends with man” …and not with a square piece of cloth.

I don’t know why I have been hit so hard by the shooting deaths of nine innocents at “Mother Emanuel” Church in Charleston. While their deaths were horrific I feel that somehow I have failed even though I never knew Dylann Roof or the “Emanuel Nine.” How does a young man fall through the cracks of the educational system of which I was a part of for over forty years? In my heart the question is probably “How many have I let fall through the cracks that I could have saved or helped in some way?” All it might have taken was a hand. I know, it “Takes a village to raise a child” but where was his village or was the water so polluted that it didn’t matter? I guess only Dylann or God can answer that.

The families of those innocents showed monumental strength and the forgiving power of the human spirit while leading the people of South Carolina through what had proven to be a volatile minefield in other parts of the nation. All it might have taken was a single spark to cause the situation to explode like Ferguson had. I have hopes that the people of South Carolina are just better than that. The sideshow that became the cry to remove the Confederate Battle Flag may have diverted attention away from the suffering and questioning that was taking place by focusing that attention on that inanimate object which had been both a symbol of heritage for one group and a symbol of hatred for the other. While people raged back and forth on the issue of the flag the Emmanuel Nine were exalted for their love and care for a person who did not look like them and then one by one laid to rest.

While watching the funeral for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator, I could not help but feel pride in the way that South Carolina had handled this travesty…until the President spoke and suddenly my social media sites exploded after he mentioned gun control. So much venom was spouted and across a myriad of subjects. Do you suppose the President should go to every dead service member’s funeral? Wouldn’t it make more sense to end the war so there would be no dead service men or women? Between the murders, funerals, gun control, the flag and gay marriage it was a rough week and I suddenly wondered about my group of “friends.” I also realized that Dylann Roof may have been on his way to get what he professed to have wanted: “a race war.” Exactly one month later as I write this I have seen few assurances that this won’t happen.

We have had more death and suffering. An Islamic radical has shot and killed five Marine and Navy personnel and rather than focus on the dead and their family we seem to have more concern about whether the act is branded domestic or foreign terrorism, lone wolf or a cabal. More flag controversy has sprung up but this time it is over the tardiness of lowering the United States Flag to half-mast.

I always taught that period leading up to and including 1968 was the most divisive and dangerous period of our existence as a country since the Civil War. Civil Rights legislation, the Viet Nam War protest, Mai Lai and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy all combined for a low point in my life. I believe that we are in a much more dangerous period with ISIS, The New Black Panthers, KKK, Texas Secessionist and (fill in the blank with any wing nut hate group) have all surfaced like turds in the toilet bowl. Add to those groups the discussion on illegal aliens, gay marriage, a more militant NAACP, #BlackLivesMatter, too many Republican hopefuls, not enough Democratic hopefuls and a president who can’t poop without someone disagreeing with the time, color or texture. The word divisive just doesn’t cover the situation that we are facing.

There are other issues within our country that have to long been overlooked and as I have learned, the longer you let something tend to itself it tends to do nothing but spiral downward. To me none of that matters. It starts and ends with hate and a particularly galling aspect are the statements of history that are being bandied about that are “apologist” or “protagonist” half-truths to make each side feel better and their points more embraceable. To me they are still out and out lies or half-truths at best.

I don’t want this to be a history book. I want it more to be a series of stories that support history but I also know that I am old enough for “my wants not to hurt me” and will supply footnotes and citing’s as I need to. I will also attempt to provide humor wherever I can…and maybe, just maybe a little understanding.

POSTSCRIPT
Since originally writing this piece, divisiveness continues. Cities have erupted over seemingly unjustified police shootings, terrorists have been active all over the world including the US, the NRA battles supporters of gun control over mass shootings and now we have an uproar over transgender bathroom rights.

In the greatest measure of dissatisfaction, Donald Trump has risen to the top of the Republican heap amid controversy and protest swirling around him. He has managed to disparage almost everyone except for whites who are not members of the Republican mainstream. Trump has uncovered an ugly truth; Our government is perceived to have ceased to function for a large portion of our people and people are mad. Trump has also employed a proven method of consolidating his political power: Scapegoating groups of people to focus our hatred upon. I believe Trump is using the fear and hatred that has always been there, our bigotry and racism. Trump is a manifestation of our ugly secret.

Don Miller has also written three books which may be purchased or downloaded at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

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