Editorial: Everyone has to have a place here
You aren’t wanted here.
That is an idea that is becoming a part of our daily soundtrack. It is the subtitle of so many things that happen around us.
You don’t have the right insurance? You aren’t wanted here.
You are a kid the mean girls don’t like? You aren’t wanted here.
You are a team that looks different from us? You aren’t wanted here.
It happens too often in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Not everywhere. Not every minute. But often enough that it is a drum beat, a rhythm, a repetitive drive that reverberates through our stories.
We aren’t special. It’s happening across our country.
You are fleeing violence in South America? You aren’t wanted here.
You are a black man doing something someone has decided you shouldn’t? You aren’t wanted here.
You are from a different political party than me and just want to eat dinner? You aren’t wanted here.
You are a protester? You aren’t wanted here. You are the one being protested? You aren’t wanted either.
You are questioning your government? You are supporting your government? You want to teach me something I don’t want to learn? You want to exercise your right to tell me something I don’t like? You are doing absolutely anything someone else just doesn’t want you to do? You aren’t wanted here.
But those national and local pictures collided when a man walked into a synagogue of people praying and celebrating life and decided that because he didn’t like the way they worshipped God, he didn’t want them there.
We have to start focusing on what we have to offer each other or we are in danger of shattering. We have to teach tolerance that is truly tolerant, and pride in ourselves that isn’t predicated on the belittling or destruction of someone else.
Sometimes the problem isn’t hatred. Sometimes it is detachment, which might be just as bad. When we are so splintered and separated from each other, it makes it easy to decide that the person we oppose is not really a person at all. They are just an avatar, a kind of video game representation of the enemy. That makes it easy to push them away and push them out, and for some, to do so through the most violent and permanent means possible.
Let’s honor the memory of 11 precious souls in Squirrel Hill by seeing the people who are different from us as human beings first.
We all have to remember that our country is an open invitation to everyone, a message that no matter where you came from or what you have to say or how you worship, there is a place for you here.