Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Blowin' In the Wind - Love from Hate

Just before turning in for the night of June 17, I learned of yet another act against innocent
people having a prayer meeting in their church.  The perpetrator: a 21 year old white man; the victims: all black in a predominately black church, long a symbol for the people of Charleston.  The young man, Dylann Roof, came into the church, sat with the members attending a Bible study for about an hour, and then the shooting began.  I was reduced to tears when the reports started coming in and felt I could not take any more bad news about human beings having so little consideration for other human beings.

According to reports, Dylann Roof’s intention was to start a “race war”.  But he did not know nor understand the trends of our present day world that tell us, despite the media’s constant bombardment of all that is evil in our world and the items they use to distract us, that people everywhere are tuning in to the need to embrace each other as brothers and sisters and to realize that we are all human beings and basically want the same things. Nor did he realize that he set in motion events to bring people even closer together rather than to divide them in a war that can never be won.

In the days since this event took place, I have been overwhelmed by the response to this tragedy. Was it possible that through this act of intense hate, a message of love would be revealed?  As each day has unfolded, my question has been answered and the answer is a resounding YES!  Nine precious souls were required to sacrifice their lives, and they did not sacrifice in vain. These brave men and women laid down their lives to enable us to look hate in the face and have the opportunity to answer it with love.

In honor of these nine brave souls, I share 5 positive outcomes that have been observed as a result of this act intended to divide us in hatred.

1. The abandonment of the confederate flag. Dylann Roof used the confederate flag as a symbol of racism.  This flag has long been a point of contention in the South.  It was basically created as a battle flag for one of the Virginia armies during the Civil War.  The main issue in the Civil War was the disagreement over the right to own slaves.  Once civil rights were passed many years later, many southern states used this flag as a symbol to oppose integration.  In the fight against racism, this flag has been allowed to fly for too long.  And the one place it does still fly is at the State Capitol in South Carolina.  This week, as a result of this young man’s hatred, Nikki Haley, the governor of SC, has called for the removal of this worn out symbol.  Not only will that flag be removed, but retailers such as Walmart and Sears have announced that they will no longer sell it.  

2. Unity. The Emanuel AME Church did not close up or back down in fear. Instead, they
inspired the nation by exemplifying love, peace, and forgiveness. On the Sunday following the shooting, the church doors opened for services. Other churches in the area joined in with their
directive to ring bells at 10 a.m. and then many walked to the church where they stood outside as there was no room inside. I have a friend that lives in Charleston and participated in this moving event.  Some of these photographs are from her experience. No, she is not black. In fact, look closely at these photos and others that are available on the internet. You will see that there are all types of people present….old, young, black, white, male, female…if only we could look at each other without assigning one of these labels!

3. Forgiveness. At the hearing on Friday, June 19, several of the victims’ family members were present and addressed Dylann Roof.  The message was the same from each:  I forgive you and am praying for you.  What enlightened souls they must be.  Even in the wake of loss, they did not forget their mission of love, nor the mission of their loved ones now departed.

4. Peace. On Sunday evening, June 21, thousands gathered to march across Charleston’s Arthur Ravenel, Jr.bridge in a show of solidarity.  They filled up 2 miles in the “Bridge to Peace Unity Chain”.  What a beautiful show of brotherhood. This is us, the American people, coming together to say we have had enough…enough killing, enough hatred, enough division. 
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Tucker Bowman

5. Love. Social media has been full of uplifting quotes and expressions of love pertaining to this event. Civil Rights have only taken us so far. Racism is alive and well.  Each of us must do our part.  Call out those that speak despairingly about others.  Stand up for your race….the Human race…and see each person as your brother and sister.  Yes, even Dylann Roof.  Pray for him and those like him. Address any prejudice in your own heart.  Sit with it.  Observe how it made its way there.  Then love it so much that it dissolves into love itself.  

This old folk song is as relevant now as it was in the 60’s, if not more so.  I could not help but hear it playing in my head over these past few days.  (PS – the answer is LOVE.)

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind

The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Songwriters: Bill Sherrill and Charlie Rich


  1. It's no longer about black and white it's about dark and Light. Your incisive comments about love and the high costs of hate are spot on! We, personally and as a nation, need to choose the peaceful solutions rather than let the acts of misguided, demented individuals come to define us to ourselves or others. Thanks for the POV (point of view)!

  2. Thank you so much! It is past time for We The People to take back our lives from the media, from hate mongers, from those that seek to divide us. Sometimes it takes hate to shine a light on love...that is how I see this event.