I had not previously made a statement about what is happening in Charlottesville because, frankly, it has been hard for me to find words that are strong enough to decry this kind of hatred. I can’t. They don’t exist.
As an elected official, I guess I am supposed to be able to make some profound statement about what is happening to our country. All I can tell you this has been building for several years. We all saw it escalating. Looting, and riots began happening so often that it was no longer news. Free speech was being shut down across the country, and the freedom of expression was being replaced by freedom of violence. The liberty of a free nation comes with a great responsibility. As George Washington stated, “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.” We are falling very short of living up to that standard. It is time to take a hard look and ask ourselves if we are we being good stewards of this great nation? The answer is pretty clear, but not for the reasons that some may think.
If people are looking to blame one party, one race, one ideology, it just isn’t that easy. I wish it were. This falls to all of us, or rather, each of us. The hatred, and the attacks occur all around us daily. Social media has become a powerful tool for spreading lies, hate and fear. People that virtually high five each other for one upping the nastiness contribute to the darkness. If you watched the events of Charlottesville unfold in the media, and on twitter, you saw what I saw. The divisiveness and the hate grew out of it like a brush fire out of control. All the while these people seemed to be unaware that they are part of the problem.
The fact is that we are better than this. There is no place for hatred in this nation. The divisiveness, that has intensified since the November election has taken on an entirely new level of vitriol, and it has to stop. We need to denounce each group that seeks to divide us, because they are each equally as destructive to our nation, and to our liberty.
We are a nation of many beliefs, viewpoints, races, and creeds. How we choose to discuss our differences, and our similarities defines who we are going forward. That includes how we choose to interact on social media. We can choose to work together to be better examples to our youth, and to be better examples in our communities. We can choose to turn our backs on the nastiness. We can choose not to be led by media, and the people who want to divide us. We can choose a better path for our nation, or we can choose to let the small factions of hate win out. That is what liberty is, the freedom of choice.
We can be that One Nation Under God Indivisible that our Founding Fathers intended us to be. We live in the best nation in the world. We are facing difficult times, but the words of John Winthrop still ring true, “We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” We have the power to stand united, push hate aside, and achieve a level of unity that will be an example for all nations. We just need to choose that path, work toward that virtuous goal, and be the light that quells the darkness.
Representative Victoria Sullivan
House Education Committee
Hillsborough District 16