A black church, a maladjusted white kid, and the nation moaning, “My God, not again.” A few selected politicians, firm believers in the theory of ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’, exploited the tragedy to push for more gun control on law abiding citizens. Shame on them. Thankfully, the majority of politicians did the decent thing by grieving with the rest of the country and graciously keeping their mouths shut. Condolences and heart-felt words for the fallen were and always will be a proper and suitable way to express sympathy for a heartbreak such as Charleston.
History proves gun control is political control, plain and simple. We do not need gun control; we need hate control. Hatred is learned; it is not a birth defect, and children do not teach other children to hate. Adults, mainly due to their own upbringing, teach the young to loathe humans that are ‘different’, ‘different’ in color, religion, education, race, sexual preferences, even in political thought. And hatred is not a ‘white only’ shortcoming. Hatred is an equal opportunity deficiency flowing like an open spigot from the mouths of the ignorant, the manipulators, money hungry scammers, and ‘divide and conquer’ doyens.
Look at Charleston. No riots, no torching of private property, no police pelted with rocks. The confederate flag is coming down from the state capital of South Carolina. Tens of thousands of whites and blacks, arm-in-arm, marched in peaceful commemoration. Why did the country not witness a replication of Ferguson, or Philadelphia or Baltimore? Simple.
The New York Times and other a-notch-above-tabloid publications with their own political agendas are addicted to a partisan doctrine of ‘if it’s southern then it’s ignorant and racist’ regardless of evidence otherwise. I’ll concede one thing only about the south, we are poles apart from the rest of the country. We are laid back but not lazy, we are patriotic and respect the flag, and yes, Mr. President, we cling to our guns and bibles. We do not bow to the Federal Government, we bow to God, and we are still a Christian nation regardless of decrees to the contrary. Charleston is dealing with this tragedy as a people, not black or white, but as folks weary of hatred and divisiveness and demagoguery.
The Civil War is over. Yet the calamity of brother against brother on the battlefields of Bull Run and Gettysburg, separate but equal segregation, and the necessity for our nation to disseminate a Civil Rights Bill in the 60s, does not bode well for the inferred freedoms in the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. Yet again, it is only through our Bill of Rights and Constitution that dramatic alteration and often legitimate social unrest can and does change hearts and minds.
We are not a perfect population and we certainly do not have a perfect government, but when all is said and done, America stands alone as the beacon for opportunity and freedom. We solve our own problems. We debate, even quarrel, then compromise and accommodate. We learn, we live, we learn to live and let live. Respect is paramount for societal peace, and respect, either earned or tendered, is the bridge to harmony for a society in dire need of deference with honor.
Forget the killer; remember the victims, and remember how far we as a people have come and how much we still can lose. This, is our country, to save, or to sacrifice. Perhaps the peaceful spark required to save and mend America was ignited in South Carolina. Thank you, Charleston, for your magnificent example. You have chosen to lead instead of follow.
Pete Mecca is a Vietnam veteran, columnist and freelance writer. You can reach him at email@example.com or aveteransstory.us.