This is a political post. If you would rather experience a spot of floral beauty, click here.
Living through history is not an easy thing. I've lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis. The assassination of John F. Kennedy. Vietnam. Watergate. 9/11. And much, much more. My Dad lived through World War I and World War II (and served in World War II, sustaining a head injury that impacted him for the rest of his life).
We live in exciting, but dangerous, times.
In January of this year, I visited Charlottesville, Virginia and spent several days there. It was my second visit.
Between Friday and Saturday, Charlottesville became the focus of our country.
In January, walking downtown, I took this picture.
Yesterday, the marquee had a different message: That one read "C'Ville Strong" ("C'Ville" is what locals call Charlottesville.). The longer marque at the front read "Heather Heyer Gone But Not Forgotten".
Until Saturday, few in this country had ever heard of Heather Heyer. Now, her name in on the lips of many. Heather Heyer, age 32, participating in a demonstration against white supremists, was run down in cold blood, allegedly (the accused driver has not yet been tried and is presumed innocent until proven guilty) by a domestic terrorist. 19 others were injured, some seriously.
But wait..there was more, earlier that day, at the local synagogue.
Three white supremists, armed with semi-automatic weapons, had tried to intimidate congregants of the local synagogue during its Sabbath services by standing a block away, in plain sight. There are pictures taken by congregants of neo-Nazis marching past the synagogue, holding Nazi flags, chanting Nazi slogans I refuse to quote here. Someone said that if those pictures had been taken in black and white, one may have thought they were looking at a Nazi demonstration from the 1930's.
But the march was here in the United States. And a simple Google search will reveal hate crime after hate crime, against various minorities. This incident that took the life of Heather is only the latest one.
The mother of Heather Heyer, at a memorial service yesterday, urged mourners to “make my daughter’s
death worthwhile” by confronting injustice and channeling “anger into
Heed her words, spoken from the deepest pain a mother can know.
You may well already be speaking out. If so, I thank you. As a member of a religious minority, I thank you with all my being.
It is quite possible, on the other hand, that you feel this does not impact you.
If you feel you are not threatened by this wave of "alt-right" hate, I have a question for you. Did your parent, or grandparent, fight in World War II or work in a domestic support factory (like my mother did)? If so, how would they feel today about what is happening? Would they have rested easy knowing their sacrifices were apparently in vain?
Nazi Germany did not happen in a day. Or in a month. Or in a year. And many living there did nothing, thinking it would never get "that bad". It could never happen "here". Until it did, and they were trapped.
We have this one chance to fight tyranny. So know this: Tyrants come into power because people let them have the power. They watch, with each action they take, to see how people react. If there is little reaction, they do something more drastic. And more drastic. And one day....
We must react, and not just today. This is not "take part in a march, high five each other go the afterparty, and then go about your life."
I wish I could be more elegant. I wish I could channel the tears and the anguish I've felt since I turned my computer on Saturday afternoon and read what had happened in Charlottesville, in the ways others more elegant with words have done.
It can happen here. It already has. The followers of hate have come out of the shadows. They paraded Friday night in the light of tiki torches, pretending that what they cared about was the heritage of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. That statue was their excuse. They know what they are doing. They use their symbols and imagery consciously. And they are not trailer park yahoos. Don't ever think that. You would be wrong.
They are educated. They are angry. You may not know them, but they know you. They are no longer in hiding.
They could be your co worker. Or next door neighbor. Or relative. Or friend.
If we don't speak up, and speak up daily, the hatred will only spread. They have the ear of power.
Nor can we allow it to go back into the shadows to hide and wait for their next opportunity.
Don't be distracted We have a small window of opportunity.
Strap in for turbulence.