A church was founded in Charleston, SC in 1816. Amid the strife and abhorrent times, in 1822 the church was destroyed, many of its congregation arrested, beaten and killed. The congregation persevered underground.
In 1865 amid the ruins of war, the reconstruction of the building began, and the congregation was again able to worship in public. In 1886, the building fell with many others in an earthquake, but the members were destined to rebuild, and did so in 1891.
It served as bastion of hope during the Civil Rights era.
It survived a hurricane in 1989.
In 2015, a petulant child in the body of a man strove to use this location to reignite conflict of the past, and took nine lives. I will not mention his name, because by doing so, gives him power and recognition he does not deserve.
I am from South Carolina, have many friends and family in Charleston and the low country. I have been in this church. I know several of its congregation. And I waited seven days to publish my feelings on this to see what would happen in our modern times of turmoil. I have both been saddened, but hopeful in the aftermath.
In summation, thousands and thousands have come out in mourning and support for the church, its congregation, and its fallen. In sweltering heat and humidity, the Red Cross passed out water to the congregation and guests that filled the church to capacity during its first service after the shooting. Over four thousand people stood outside the church, and listened to the service, broadcast over speakers. The audience spread for blocks in every direction.
And the unthinkable happened. The congregation, and mourning families forgave the man that wrought this tragedy. I couldn’t have done that.
This man who sat among them in worship, who said they were so good to him as he almost couldn’t go through with it, and yet still did. They forgave him.
He has confessed. Though I believe him to have a significant mental illness, he has admitted in his own way he knew it was wrong, and he is therefore not criminally insane. If there has ever been a case for the fast track to the executioner, it’s this sorry example of humanity.
But I have backed off of this opinion. He should be dropped in the deepest hole we can find, and forgotten. He should never again see the light of day. It’s not my place to forgive him. I believe it is a miracle that those he assaulted could do so. I believe this reflects the history of their congregation.
Beyond that, the city mourned, and did not riot. No one burned down the church that has suffered so many wounds. No one started the war that this sick individual desired. When a certain rabble rousing reverend came to spread his own variety of divisiveness after the families and congregation requested he not come, he was ignored and in short order skulked out of town.
The people of Charleston pulled together regardless of race or creed to mourn and support a historic and exceptional congregation with love and support.
Outside of Charleston, the vultures have descended to take create the firestorm the city refused to provide. As with any shooting, both extreme sides of the gun debate take poorly aimed shots at each other, inflicting more grievous wounds on the survivors. The debate over a flag covers the caskets of civilians not yet buried. If only any of these people could show a fraction of the character of the congregation that showed love, compassion and understanding to the monster that brought this to their midst.
If you want someone to blame, look at the parent who provided an ill equipped, untrained, and readily apparent person with mental and emotional issues a weapon, when he has not been a functioning member of society since he allegedly dropped out of school at the age of 14.
Blame the other parent who allegedly seized the weapon from an adult child for some reason, but did not properly secure the weapon.
Blame the people who radicalized a disenfranchised kid with their message
By trying to cast blame and use this tragedy to push forward other agendas, you give power to the symbols and those who seek to use them. This tragedy, like so many that have happened recently all boil down to one of the basest emotions.
Fear of things and people that are not like us.
Fear that people won’t agree with us.
Fear they won’t like us.
Shit happens. Healthy conflict is important. Having differences is critical.
And how boring would life be if everyone was just alike.
You don’t have to like me.
You don’t have to agree with me.
You don’t have to respect my opinion.
You don’t have to come over for dinner.
But guess what.
You do have to respect my right to have an opinion different from yours. And I have to respect your right.
If you fear something or someone, there is only one way to deal with it. Address it. Walk up and say hi to it. Buy it a drink. Pat it on the head. Respect it.
Don’t empower it.
Don’t lash out. Then you’re the aggressor, and we all have the right to defend ourselves.
If we can take anything away from this tragedy, it is to learn how to persevere and ultimately thrive through adversity. Love and respect those who you don’t agree with, and with who don’t agree with you.
As for me, I’m always game for a friendly debate. And as long as it’s discourse, I don’t care what you say. If it doesn’t harm anyone else, I don’t care what you do.
But know this, if you come to harm me and mine, I play to win.
Until then, love and peace out!
#Charleston #CharlestonStrong #CharlestonShooting #DontBeAnAsshole