|Mosque under construction in Murfreesboro, TN|
Irrational violence has been committed once again, this time in my home state of Tennessee. One person targeted military personnel at a recruitment center and a military training facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a short drive from my home. Loved ones have been lost. A community has been plunged into grief and loss.
The shooter has won nothing. In addition to losing his own life, he has simply shown that an angry, misguided person can do extreme damage to the unsuspecting. We knew that already and have seen it too many times from people motivated by various twisted ideologies.
The shooter only wins if we let him divide us as a people. The United States of America has attracted people from all over the world. They have come with various traditions, ideologies, and faiths, but they have a common commitment to be Americans. This did not happen overnight. Early settlers who were escaping persecution turned around and persecuted those who did not believe as they did. Those who rebelled against an established church attempted to give their own church a favored status in the new world. Over time and with much struggle, we came to realize that people of good will, no matter what their beliefs, could work together and create a strong nation out of our diversity if all beliefs were respected.
At the core of every faith, there is a desire for justice. People of good will—whether Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or any other faith or no faith—are seeking the same things. They want safety for their persons and property, opportunities for their children, and equality for all people. In these basic commitments are the seeds for cooperation, collaboration, and strength.
Rather than finding reasons to be divided, let us find the ways that we can come together.