“Hate.” “Bomb plot.” “Bombing spree.” “Suspect arrested.” These were just a few of many alarming phrases that inundated the front page of The New York Times last Saturday. This past week, several rudimentary pipe bombs were mailed to critics of the current presidential administration. According to the Times, at least 12 packages have been intercepted by officials. The intended recipients of these packages include current public officials such as Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, influential Democrats such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden, and actors and Democratic philanthropists such as Robert De Niro and George Soros. CNN reported that on Friday a suspect by the name of Cesar Sayoc was apprehended. Sayoc’s actions are the product of a society that actively promotes hatred towards those different than oneself. Violence ensued, and these incidents will keep happening if we do not do something to stop it.
As more details about the crime begin to unfold, theories and commentaries on the events have flooded the Internet, some coming from representatives, senators, and even President Donald Trump himself. And, as is often the case in today’s political scene, fingers are being pointed, accusations are being made, and tensions continue to rise. Trump attacked the media, insinuating that they were to blame for the hostile environment. CNN reported that he said, “the media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility” in reference to the bombs. Later, writer and civil rights activist Shaun King published an article for The Intercept entitled “Trump is Blaming the Media for One of the Worst Weeks in Modern American History — But His Own Support for Violent Bigotry is to Blame.” And, in a sense, this is true; even though Trump called for peace and unity, his often provocative words and actions endorse the hostility, lack of civility, and hatred that have become all too prevalent in today’s society.
In recent years, especially since the 2016 election, there has been an increasing divide between Democrats and Republicans. This is evident both on social media and in our everyday lives, as hate-fueled comments and discourse are flooding the political scene. Politics have become an “us vs. them” situation. We view members of the opposite party as enemies, rather than simply people with different views than us. The level of animosity and antipathy that is being funneled into politics is rising every day. If this trend continues, the future of the country looks very bleak. Sayoc’s actions showed us a glimpse of what can happen when partisan differences escalate into acts of domestic terrorism. The American public is left to ask: “So, how did we get here? And, more importantly, how do we fix this?”
We have to change our ways. We have to educate and be educated about cultures and people who are different from us. We have to be more tolerant, be more open, be more understanding. We need to set examples for little kids who are growing up in a society where mass shootings are normal, where differences of opinion are expressed through violence, and where, instead of being open and listening to other ideas, we feel the need to isolate our thoughts.
I love my country. We are founded on the ideal that people from all over can exist together peacefully, and create a fair and just society. But sometimes, you have to be able to step back and hate your country. If we want to make a change — if we want to end senseless violence — then we have to work hard. We need to introduce civility into our conversations. We need to respect other people’s opinions, unless they disrespect someone’s existence. In that case, we educate them, teach them, and help them to be more willing to accept others.
We can work towards this right here at Andover. Whether it is in the classroom, during conversations with peers, in dorms, talking to friends, or anywhere else on campus, we can incorporate proper civil discourse into both our academic curriculum and our lives outside of the classroom. We need to stand up for what we believe in, and we need to do it peacefully. We cannot foster hatred anymore.
Sophie Glaser is a Junior from West Hartford, Conn. Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.