I started this column several years ago to offer a break to the partisan rhetoric that often finds its way to opinion and editorial pages. I wanted to write about things that were amusing, that I enjoy, or that show kindness and the good in this world — and the occasional column about language because I’m a word nerd.

I haven’t been writing as much lately. That’s partly because there are only so many hours in a day and, when I’ve got a full plate, something’s got to give. While my musings may be amusing, they aren’t news. 

And then there’s the fact that, many times, I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of bad news. 

Like Monday morning. Or this past weekend. Or last week. Or the week before. 

Over the weekend, this place I’ve called my home for more than 15 years was plastered over the Internet, connected to a white supremacist group that chose our community to meet and hold a summit of sorts.

It sickened me that my town was connected with such a group.

Monday morning, as I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed, I was hit with the news of the Las Vegas shooting. 

Details are still coming out from the Sunday night tragedy on the Vegas strip, but a gunman opened fire on attendees at a country music festival. As I write this, 50 people have been confirmed dead and more than 200 people injured.

Last week, just outside Nashville, a man opened fire on people as they worshiped, killing one and wounding seven.

Unlike the devastating hurricanes that continue to impact our fellow Americans in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the fires in the west, these tragedies — and so many more that happen throughout our country on a daily basis — are caused by someone. 

I can’t wrap my head around why people would want to murder perfect strangers. I can’t understand what would compel someone to rob families of their loved ones or to cut the lives of others short. 

I suppose it’s good that I don’t understand such senseless violence. I don’t want to be able to “empathize” with someone who would do such things.

In Nashville, investigators say revenge was the motive and the shooter was looking to avenge those killed by Dylan Roof in the June 2015 Charleston, SC, church shooting.

I say that’s an excuse, and a poor one at that. 

The very victims of that horrific day put their faith in action and forgave Roof. 

Nadine Collier stood before the man who shot her mother and eight other congregants during a Bible study and said, “I forgive you.”

Her forgiveness wasn’t easy. One can imagine the strength of character and faith required to forgive someone who takes away something so precious as your mother. 

A year later, she told the Washington Post, “Forgiveness is power. It means you can fight everything and anything head on.”

I don’t know if I could do it. And I know she didn’t do it all on her own. She had to be leaning on a higher power. 

In the wake of tragedy, we human beings often rise to the occasion and not only send our thoughts and prayers to those affected, but put our hands to work to help others. 

I wish those moments of solidarity could last longer. I wish we could stop the bickering back and forth, the division and the hate and come together as one big family — all of us. 

That doesn’t mean we all agree. That doesn’t mean all the problems we have will suddenly disappear. But perhaps it will help us all treat others with kindness, with dignity, with love.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Be the light and be the love, and let’s drive the hate out of our communities. 

 

Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.