The Awful Hatred Within

We now have to ask ourselves two more of those questions that can’t ever be adequately answered, not really.  Why would someone arm themselves with an arsenal of weapons and go into a synagogue to murder complete strangers during a bris?   Why would someone conclude that the best course of action under the circumstances was to create crude pipe bombs and send them to political and cultural figures?  Why?  Why?

181027-synagogue-shooting-al-1443_70ba0bef22a8f1ea38102491713be93c-fit-760wIf you read about Robert Bowers, the despicable anti-Semitic murderer who shot up the Tree of Life Congregation in a Pittsburgh suburb, and Cesar Sayoc, the lunatic who allegedly sent bombs to the likes of former President Barack Obama, you quickly realize that they had at least one hugely significant thing in common:  they were haters.  They hated their targets with a terrible, venomous passion, they expressed their hatred on social media and in their interactions with others, and finally they acted on their hatred in the most horrible ways imaginable.

What would it be like to live your life consumed with hatred for some target group, so filled with loathing and anger that you would reach the point where you would act out your hatred on complete strangers?  And more to the point, how many more Robert Bowers and Cesar Sayocs are out there, lurking in the shadows and on the fringes of society, simmering in their hatred and disturbed world views, on the verge of wreaking havoc?  How many more disturbed ranters might be ready to take action?   And, perhaps even more disturbing, how many people noticed the evil directions that Robert Bowers and Cesar Sayoc were taking, could have done something about it, but didn’t?

We all need to stand with the Tree of Life Congregation and the targets of the mad bombing scheme, and also recognize that this kind of ugly, violent hatred can be, and has been, directed at any group that can be defined by religious, political, or personal differences.  But more proactively, we need to keep an eye on those people who appear to be veering off into a place where they might do something so abominable.   We Americans, as a community, need to start doing a better job of watching out for each other and protecting our way of life from the depredations of the lunatic fringes.

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House Unrequited

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In one of the pretty neighborhoods around Blue Hill, Maine, this derelict structure stands, cheek by jowl with some lovely, well-kept, carefully manicured New England homes.  Its roof and front porch have been partially caved in by the fall of an enormous branch that has never been removed, its windows are boarded over, and its yard is choked with huge weeds.

Why?  Our host said that no one in the neighborhood knows for sure — but something happened to make the house’s owner hate this house, and maybe the neighborhood, too.  For 20 years, he said, she has let the house slowly decay, rejecting offers to buy it, paying the property tax bill in the nick of time, so that the decay could continue until the house looks like . . . this.

What could cause someone to let this once tidy wooden home slide into ruin, and maintain such strong feelings for decades?  It’s a fascinating topic for conversation, of course, and maybe a Dickens novel or two.  Whatever it was, this poor house is paying the price.