Achieving the ideal of “E pluribus unum”

hainesAn interesting quote is making the rounds on social media.

Dante Alighieri wrote, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” Silence, therefore, can only be construed as assent to expressions of hatred for “the other.”

Anything less than a full-throated condemnation of those who espouse doctrines of loathing and violence founded upon ignorance and prejudice dishonors the memory of the nearly half a million soldiers who gave what Abraham Lincoln called “that last full measure of devotion” in the struggle against totalitarianism last century.

It should give us pause that modern day Nazis and Klan members have become sufficiently brazen to proclaim such creeds publicly in our streets while attired in helmets and flak jackets and brandishing sticks and homemade pepper spray. Surviving veterans of World War II must surely be shaking their heads.

The 20th Century recorded innumerable atrocities against our brothers and sisters across this planet. It is impossible to generate precise numbers of the victims in the unmarked graves worldwide, but the estimates are staggering: 30-40 million dead in Mao’s China; 17-33 million in Stalin’s Russia; 6-13 million during Hitler’s Third Reich. Killing only a few hundred thousand countrymen does not get you into the top 100 all-time ranking of murderous despots.

Each instance of mass murders begins with one victim. Is Heather Heyer destined to be the first of many more as we struggle against those who believe their faction to be the only rightful heirs to wealth and privilege? The sane and rational among us must resist a proliferation of such travesties.

Humans are complex mixtures of the spiritual and the bestial. Each of us is capable of violence when our existence is threatened. Survival requires that we defend ourselves against predators, and we must kill to eat. However, every moral code of any consequence is based on the twin precepts of treating other humans as we wish to be treated and loving others as we love ourselves.

Every human on the planet, all 7.5 billion of us, share one maternal gene from approximately 200 milennia ago. Modern science has irrefutably established that we are all the offspring of one “genetic Eve” whose progeny went forth to cover the Earth. Children must be taught that we are one human family and that hatred is a human frailty to be struggled against during our quest for a common humanity.

Learning to love others represents the first step on our spiritual journey as human beings, and it is a requisite step on the path to enhancing the tapestry of American culture and realizing our national motto of “Out of many, one.”

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