Today, somewhere in America, a man with hate in his heart entered a church with something tucked away in his jacket. He walked past an armed police officer, following dozens of people into the main sanctuary, where he would find a seat in the back and wait. Eye witnesses would later describe the man as a slightly overweight, middle-aged white male, with light brown curly hair and a beard, wearing a sweater and glasses. Moments into the service, a group of small children would be called up front and lead out to attend children’s service. They walked right past the man with a beard. He continued to sit. He could have easily gotten up and followed them out of the room and no one would have noticed, but he stayed where he was, waiting for a more opportunistic time to fulfill his plan.
Minutes later, an older lady would get up in the front of the church and start reading a passage from the Bible. It was at this time, two minutes into her reading, the man would stand up from his seat and start screaming and chanting at the top of his lungs. She stopped reading. The congregation turned around. He continued yelling. He raised both hands into the air, with something dark and small in his right hand. A book. He would immediately be wrestled out the back door, never to be seen again that day. The older lady would sit down, the service continued, the children still in the other room.
Today, at St. Eugene’s Catholic Church in north Oklahoma City, a man with hate in his heart and something in his hands, stood up and tried to spread his message. And I was there to witness it.
I had a direct view of the man at the exact moment he stood up. I heard him start screaming, and I saw him raise his hands. And I was prepared to hear the start of gun fire. The moment only lasted about fifteen seconds before he was taken away, but you sit there in one part shock and the other part wonder at the sight of it all. In a split second, my mind is processing the fact that I am witnessing hate, wondering where all of this is going to lead, wondering if this guy is going to kill somone.
Hate is something that is taught, and I do not know what this man was after, nor where he learned his hate from. Perhaps he was angry at the Catholic Church for its stance on certain rights? I don’t know what his agenda was. All I know was that this man had a chance to do more damage than he really did. He could have easily raised a gun, a grenade, a bomb. All I know in the minutes preceding the outburst, my child walked right past this man, and he possibly looked at my kid with harm in his intentions. And that is not okay.
This is not a gun rights issue (and any comments regarding that will be swiftly deleted). This is about the hate people have the way it got there. This is about how one man decided it was up to him to make a point, and wondering how many more of “him” are out there, and what will they use to demonstrate their point.
Hate is a struggle we deal with on a daily basis here in America, and across the entire world. It isn’t passed around like a virus, where simly washing your hands will prevent the spread. Hate is planted in the mind of someone, and then grows, until one day that person feels the need to bring someone else in on their hatred.
Today, everywhere in America, hundreds of acts of hate occured, and you didn’t hear about any of them. You wouldn’t have heard about this one if not for my account of the situation. But that doesn’t change the fact that hatred is a daily occurance, and the simple excuse of not knowing doesn’t change things.
Today, somewhere in America, a small child is overhearing their parents use the word “hate” to describe the man of color down the street, or the “funny guy” that can’t decide which bathroom to use. Today, that small child is hearing his dad talk about how crazy conservatives are or how those damn Liberals are going to be the end of America. Today in America, the seed of hate is being planted into the mind and heart of a small innocent child, to be grown over the years by the constant watering of hateful rhetoric spoken by their parents. Sure it may be as simple as an off color joke here or a “I didn’t mean it that way” there, but the seed is planted, and even the smallest amount of water is needed to start its sprouting.
Someday in America, that small boy or girl will grow up, the hate about to burst out of their own hearts, and they will follow a group of people for who they loathe, into a large room, and the person may have more than just a book in their hands this time.
Someday in America, that person may be where you are when they decide to execute their plan, but even worse, that person with hate in their heart and a plan in their mind, may be the very person you raised, who’s seed you planted, but can’t undo.