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Charlottesville is a Symptom

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

That was the prescient, final Facebook post by Heather Heyer, a 20-year old woman who was mowed down by a car during a counter-protest against white nationalists, the KKK, and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The anger and division in this country has been simmering beneath the surface for decades—and within the past few years appears to finally be boiling over.

What took place in Charlottesville over the weekend is yet another symptom of the dangerous direction that we’re heading as a nation. A nation that refuses to find middle ground—where people are entrenched in their opinions, insulated by their social media echo chambers, and acting with the ever-perilous “Us vs. Them” mindset that always finds an “other” to cast as a convenient scapegoat.

In a country that has withstood so many external threats to maintain its inherent strength and resilience, it’s demoralizing to see it seemingly torn in half by threats from within.

The scenes from Charlottesville were horrific. It was yet another flashpoint in the populist movements in society and politics—a continental drift of community, cooperation, and conscience.

Heather Heyer was murdered by a coward for expressing her aversion to an abhorrent belief system. Her life taken for speaking out against the scourge of hatred and bigotry. The silver lining in these awful situations is that they can present unwanted opportunities to learn and move forward. Unfortunately of late, America seems immune to education.

This can change, but only if we’re willing to thoughtfully engage one another and avoid retreating to the ideological cocoons that we’ve established for ourselves.

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