Rep. Costello: Hate is a dangerous thing
A man drove a car into a crowd of people, killing one and injuring 19 others. It was a despicable act committed by someone motivated by hate.
Some of the commentary on this incident and the President’s myriad responses misses the mark on what is the bigger picture relating to the character of our country and what we aspire to have our culture nurture for our kids, grandkids, and future generations. No one can take that character and identity from us unless we allow them to.
We should all take pause and acknowledge that hate does not rest solely in a few certain individuals who happen to be really conservative, or really liberal, or agnostic, or faithful to one particular religious affiliation, or that it is rooted solely in one ideology or another. Hate is rooted in a personal decision to decide to be intolerant and cruel toward another individual or group of individuals based on another’s skin color, religion, gender, ethnicity, or other similar type characteristic.
Hate is a dangerous thing, in many, many ways.
Hate removes rationalism, temperance, and the ability to forgive, replacing it with emotionalism, anger, and irrational blame. Reason and tolerance get lost and are replaced with a debased sense of good and bad. Hate slowly replaces common decency with disgust. In a civil society we lose our identity when we lose these collective personal values as being the foundation from which relationships and discourse emanate. Hate can fester, and can spread.
And I’m really very concerned that it is spreading. The President’s most recent statement was intended to include other groups as spreading hate on that tragic day. This was wrong. Hate groups are relishing at what is occurring right now. We now find some arguing over whether it was just “alt-right” hate groups or whether “alt-left” hate groups were also to blame — such a debate is a false debate because no conclusion will actually solve or resolve anything. We are at a very divisive time in the history of our country where some people are so emotional and angry to the point where a bad situation is becoming worse.
We now find ourselves with a horrific death that exposes deeper, more ugly truths about what still festers in the deep and dark underground of our country. I would suggest the best way to move forward is to give hate no mind, no time, and no audience. One of the best things we can do is take a deep collective breath and find wisdom and solace in those preaching kindness and patient resolve in getting beyond the past few days so that we can focus on the challenges and opportunities we have in this country.
Such wisdom and clarity need not come from the words of a President, and at this point they cannot given how unbelievably poorly our President has failed. Such wisdom and clarity need not derive from any politician for that matter, or a clergy member or media figure — it can come from within you. We need to do this because we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones, to the men and women who sacrificed to make this country what it is, and to future generations who rely on us to create opportunity for them to live under the pillars of equality and dignity for all in America.
Our country is way bigger, better, and wiser than to allow the hateful few to rob us of our kindness, tolerance, and essence. So let’s not allow those few to do it to us by letting them. This means refusing to parse the words of others to assign them blame for a murder perpetrated by one and instead find truth and meaning in the message of someone whose belief you are proud to stand by, and use those words as your guidance.
U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello is a Republican who represents Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which includes parts of Berks, Chester, Lebanon, and Montgomery counties.