This piece is inspired by a handful of the many man-made tragedies that occurred across the world in the months of June and July of 2016 alone. These are tragedies involving violence that were motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudices.
Is the best of what humanity had the potential to be in our past? Perhaps somewhere between Obama’s election and the Arab Spring we peaked and hope and positivity was abundant. But from that moment on the decline began. Perhaps 2016 was the breaking point: the year love and togetherness lost to hate and ignorance. From the mass shooting in a gay bar in Orlando to the terrorist bombings in Bangladesh, from shooting of an innocent man in Falcon Heights to the killing of five police officers in Dallas, the months of June and July of 2016 have shown us the worst in humanity: our ability to kill the innocent so easily. From Duterte of the Philippines to Trump or Hillary in the United States, from the politicians that orchestrated Brexit to Robert Mugabe and a suffering Zimbabwean people, our politicians have done more to divide us than unite. But how can you blame them? they are creatures of habit, leeches that feed off our fears and prejudices. In essence, they are a reflection of the best and worst in us.
The only thing that scares me more than the events we have witnessed the past couple of weeks is the realization that as a species, we are capable of worse and right now we are teetering on that edge it. Some people harbor an anger, hate, and ignorance that will push us over that edge. It’s an evil that is not only destructive but infectious as well.
Some say things have to get worse before they get better because it’s only then that we learn from our gravest mistakes and do better. But that’s a theory I would rather not test, how many lives have to be taken or suffer before better comes? Some things you can never come back from; that’s why horrors such as slavery, the trail of tears, the holocaust and Rwanda still haunt us. They serve as reminders of who we are at worst and how creative at finding new ways to be so.
I refuse to let the few bad apples within every group get free reign and define who we are as a people and society. There will always be those who are hateful and ignorant and take it too far. There will always be those who corrupt a good cause and taint its essence. And there will always be those fueled by an insatiable lust for suffering and blood. But I would like to believe there will always be more of us than them; more of us who believe in love, togetherness and stand for the greater good of all regardless of race, religion, profession, party, sexuality and every other marker we use to divide ourselves.
Sincerely, Kwapi Vengesayi