By Jack Ciattarelli
Six weeks ago, an unarmed man was needlessly confronted and then killed in Georgia. Last week, a New York City woman became unhinged and reckless in the presence of a harmless man. And this week, America witnessed the murder of a helpless George Floyd. The victims, all black, were our fellow Americans. Fellow citizens who deserved “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
What is happening to us? The passage of time is supposed to make us more tolerant, more respectful, more accepting, more civil, less ignorant.
People everywhere who are deeply troubled by these tragedies cannot help but feel a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. What’s the answer? New anti-hate laws? New sensitivity programs? New community policing initiatives? If only it were that simple.
Let us not make the mistake, once again, of trivializing hate crimes by merely calling for new public policies. We need something much more than that. Something truly meaningful and enduring, not violent or destructive, for, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness . . . hate cannot drive out hate.”
These tragedies, as well as the inequities and disparities exposed by the pandemic, demand an awakening. We desperately need a paradigm shift in our perceptions, attitudes, and consciousness. We desperately need recognition of and commitment to improved human relations. No public policy can achieve that. Only leadership and appeal to “the better angels of our nature” can.
All of us, each and every day, must do something that helps bring an end to indecency, hatred, and bias. All of us, each and every day, must be a shining example of tolerance and respect. All of us, each and every day, must call out intolerance, isolating those who engage in hate and bigotry.
We are not powerless, nor can we be hopeless. To be either is to surrender and further dishonor George Floyd. Instead, let us honor him by rededicating ourselves to a better existence, making our community better, and fulfilling our individual and sacred obligation to our country, accepting, yet once again, the challenge given to us by a grieving Civil War President: “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”
Jack Ciattarelli is a former NJ Assemblyman who represented the 16th legislative district–parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset Counties. He is a candidate for the Republican nomination for NJ Governor in 2021.