Saturday's are the Sabbath; it is a time for rest and prayer and spending time with your loved ones. It is not a time for tragedy to strike.
It is always heartbreaking to wake up seeing a news report that something horrific has happened, it is even more heartbreaking-- and scary-- to wake up seeing that those within your community were killed simply because of their religion. We saw the same situation three years ago in Charleston, SC at the Mother Emanuel AME Church. I may not have been part of that community, but living and going to school right down the street from the church has shown me the aftermath of the tragedy and how it has affected the community.
On Saturday morning, though I am not part of that congregation or live in that area, it struck something within me. First, I was shocked and extremely upset. 11 people were killed just because they were Jewish. The gunman, whose name does not deserve to be spoken, did not care who they were as individuals. Anti-Semites see Jews as nothing more than a collective, single being.
In the aftermath of the shooting, going through my feeds on several social media platforms, it was hard not to get even more upset. From those that were blaming the victims and the synagogue for "not being better armed," or those who were being blatantly anti-Semitic, I increasingly got angrier.
I am angry that this sort of violence is a common thing in our country now. It feels like every other week, there is another shooting. We are not safe at schools, at places of worship, at movie theaters, anywhere! And when tragedy strikes, we mourn for about a week and then move on with our lives.
We have normalized violence against minority groups and common citizens, and we're part of the problem. We have become bystanders.
Needn't I remind everyone that the Holocaust only ended 73 years ago. That may seem like a long time ago to some, but remember that there are still survivors alive today. Needn't I remind everyone that the Holocaust, while 6 million Jews were killed and they were the majority, also took 5 million others.
"Always Remember, Never Forget." "Never Again."
These are words we see connected to the Holocaust, but how true do we keep to them? Is Holocaust Education in America so lacking that we, as a nation, fail to realize what is happening? Are we so ignorant of our surroundings and history that we cannot see the parallels between the violence, the hatred, the bigotry, the injustice that is happening in our country and that of Germany in the 1930's?
The world today isn't scary for just one minority group anymore. Everyone is a target for a different reason, whether it be race, religion, sexual orientation, political party, or even just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But, we're doing nothing about it!
We like to believe that history will not repeat itself, but that is only true in a perfect world. We need to educate ourselves. We need to keep up with true current events. We need to be aware of what is going on in our lives. We need to vote. We need to become involved. We need to be angry.
I don't care who you're angry at. Be angry at the shooter, at those in power who brush things like this off, or at those who simply just don't do anything. Anger is passion, and passion shows that we care.
My thoughts and prayers, while they are not enough, are with the victims and those affected by the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting. I vow to fight for a day when this violence is no longer normalized.
I leave you with this poem by Martin Neimöller. It is presented in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and I believe it speaks volume, especially now.
"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."