If there is an abiding truth in a world that seems yet again to be crazily spinning out of control, as innocent men and women at prayer are cutdown by a lone gunman, it is that we still have power.
And we must use it.
It is that we cannot, and should not, recoil in fear, as we confront the hatred that provoked a man to stockpile a stash of deadly weapons and then walk into Tree of Life Congregation in suburban Squirrel Hill on a quiet Saturday morning and open fire. It is that we cannot, and should not, retreat to the comfort of our homes, to the reassuring familiarity of our communities, to the security of our gated neighborhoods. It is that we cannot, and should not, remain silent in the face of such evil. It is that we cannot and should not wring our hands and do nothing.
It is a power we must unleash, to speak out against the hateful invective that seeks to divide us, that seeks to prey on difference, that seeks to stoke the rage that for some like Robert Bowers is sated with the pop of an AR-15, a hail of bullets, a torrent of anti-Semitic slurs leaving a pile of bloody bodies in its wake.
It is the power to make our voices heard, to reaffirm our commitment to freedom, to equality, to justice, to the values that have made our country great. It is to vote, to elect leaders who uphold these ideals and strive to better our less than perfect union through civil discourse, reasoned debate, thoughtful policy. It is to put in office those who are committed to a vibrant democracy, to its compelling diversity, its pluralism, to a center that will hold. And it is to support those who promote understanding, respect, compassion, peace, those who abhor the hateful violence and seek to stem the flow of murderous weapons that its perpetrators often call on in its service.
And it is to understand that each of us has the capacity to effect change. That each and every benevolent act, each and every kind word, each and every hand extended, each and every heart touched, each and every door opened, increases the quotient of goodness in the world and diminishes its darkness. Each of us has the capacity to be the change we want to see, if we can look beyond ourselves, the privileges we enjoy, the benefits we accrue, and see, hear, listen, engage, those who may not share in our prosperity, who may not share our ethnicity or religious heritage, who may not share our sexual orientation, who may not share our opinions, who may not share our politics.
We only have to start.
I grieve with the families of Squirrel Hill, with those who have experienced such senseless violence at the cost of such profound loss.
And I pray for our nation to come together, to speak out, to act, in the face of such unconscionable hatred.
We are better than this, we can be better than this, and that is the truth to evil’s power.