Like most teenagers today, Dylan breathed in the world through carefully selected Google search results, slanted news blogs, violent video games, and ignorant Twitter rants. Knowing nothing but a web of anger, that 19-year-old boy drove to Charleston with virtual hate in his heart. And real bullets in his gun.
This piece was part of a creative writing challenge to write a complete story in 50 words or less.
I’m not black. And I’ve never been the victim of a hate crime. But I do know something about this kind of hate. The kind born from ignorance. From unintelligence. The kind that never learned how to evolve. Or how to think for itself. The kind that only regurgitated the hate it was fed its whole life without ever questioning its validity. Without ever assessing its merit, its truths.
When that 21-year-old boy’s father gave him a gun for his birthday, did he think about what else he’d given him? Had he given him the ability to know right for wrong? Had he given him his own prejudices?
Did he tell him the purest truths: That all human beings are beautiful? That all life is precious? That all places of worship are sacred?
What else was given to that boy before someone pushed a cool metal barrel into his sweaty palms?
We are not born with hate. But we breed it. We create it. We allow for it.
And now we all suffer the consequences of this kind of hate.
But I will not pretend I don’t have a role in this crisis; we are all a part of the world we create.
So let’s give our children the gifts of love and knowledge, not bullets and guns. Let’s arm them with the ability to question norms, not destroy what is different. Let’s give them the chance to be better than the generations before them. And pray they never know the hollow and helpless feeling that comes from witnessing this kind of hate.