The horrible events which took place in Charlottesville yesterday are still so difficult to comprehend- and yet, in some ways, they should not be surprising.
The rhetoric of division, suspicion and hatred has always been present in this nation and, sadly, in many ways it gradually became more “acceptable” during a presidential campaign which exploited the divisiveness and suspicion and seemed to turn a blind eye towards hatred. I, and so many others, have written so many words about the threat that such rhetoric from the White House posed to our nation and to see it boil over so dramatically in Charlottesville was a reminder that words do matter and that actions or proposed actions which endanger Americans of any kind- Muslims, the LGBT community, people of color, immigrants, Jews, whomever- will have ramifications on the streets of our nation.
And, the response of President Trump to yesterday’s events displayed not only an alarming and blatant lack of sensitivity and compassion but a lack of any sense of moral leadership in his unwillingness, if for no other reason than to upset a significant part of his political base, to call out the white supremacists whose rhetoric and violence ignited the horrendous events that took place yesterday.
We need to hear from our president the kinds of words the local governmental officials in Charlottesville and Virginia expressed: those of complete and unequivocal rejection of those individuals and groups who advocate racism and express hatred. Anything less is insufficient and only adds to the division in this nation.
It is Sunday morning and I have a week to write a sermon for next week. I had planned to speak this coming Shabbat morning about the Solar Eclipse taking place a week from Monday and I will do all I can to make that part of my words because this is such a “once in a lifetime” event in so many ways and my fascination with astronomy and how it reflects my belief in God as creator makes it an event I can not ignore.
But, it will not be the whole story of that sermon. Somehow, I will have to connect this event to what is happening here on earth. Perhaps it might be appropriate for us to consider how easy it is for us the light that this nation has always provided can be covered by the shadow of racism and violence. We’ll see what thoughts come to mind over the week.
This week’s parasha begins with the words: See I have placed before you blessing and curse.
As long as the curse of violence and hatred is expressed in this nation- and as long as our leaders do not do all in their power to condemn it and stop it, our light as a nation will not shine as brightly as it should, if it shines at all.
I will post the sermon when it is written.
Until then, may our nation know peace and calm.