Our problem is hate

Published 11:07 am Saturday, August 29, 2015

There is little in the news anymore that surprises, let alone stuns me. The morning and evening newscasts, the 24-hour news networks, and even community newspapers such as The Tidewater News report seemingly daily acts of violence and aggression that take place in every corner of our world. If you are anything like me you may have become desensitized to much of the reporting, as the frequency and brutality of the crimes humans are committing against other humans seems to be escalating at an ever-increasing rate. As a result, it takes something especially horrific or unexpected to truly affect me.

The shooting death of two young news professionals near Roanoke this past Wednesday did just that.

I suppose it is because this tragedy, and this truly is a tragedy, hits a little too close to home that I still find myself shaken by what transpired. Reporter Alison Parker, who was just 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, would remind you an awful lot of the two most recent additions to our own newsroom here at The Tidewater News. It pains me to think that the lives of two young people with so much promise, energy and enthusiasm for life could be so callously and brazenly snuffed out in the blink of an eye. The fact that they were gunned down while their friends, family and co-workers looked on is simply unimaginable.

The unfortunate reality of this incident, just like the many before it, is that scenes like the one that played out in Roanoke this week are only going to continue, and we would be foolish to believe otherwise. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has jumped on the opportunity to lay partial blame for the shooting on the fact that background checks are not performed at gun shows, despite the fact that this particular killer had passed a background check and bought his gun legally. Yet even with stricter gun control laws, humans will continue to take the lives of other humans. Not because people have access to guns, and not because we don’t perform universal background checks. Why then? People will continue killing people because people themselves are the problem. The world has become increasingly violent not because a handgun is more readily available than ever before, but because the ultimate weapon — hate — appears everywhere we turn.

Whether it is with a bomb made from fertilizer in Oklahoma City, a hijacked airliner in Manhattan or an improvised explosive device buried along a roadside in Baghdad, the hatred in humans’ hearts will drive them to kill each other by any means necessary. Our culture has become consumed with hate, which is why the violence we inflict on one another is becoming more and more common and less and less alarming. On seemingly every issue, we can’t merely disagree anymore, we single out those who challenge our beliefs and seek to destroy them.

Running for office? Don’t make the case for why you are the best candidate, Call your opponent every name in the book, attack their personal character and ruin their credibility. Pro-life? Blow up an abortion clinic. Angry about police brutality? Burn your city to the ground and steal from your neighbors. Angry because you lost your job? Murder your former colleagues on live television.

We can take away guns, but it won’t solve the problem because guns aren’t actually our problem. Our problem is that the hatred that lies within human hearts drives people to want to kill other people. Had a handgun been available, Cain might have fired a fatal shot. But because one was not, the first murder was committed with a rock.

Hate is the original weapon. Maybe if we spent more of our energy trying to get hate off the streets the killing will stop. Then maybe, just maybe, Alison Parker and Adam Ward would still be alive today.

Tony Clark is publisher of The Tidewater News. His email address is tony.clark@tidewaterews.com.