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How Can We Respond to the Hate in Charlottesville?

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I feel helpless as I watch events unfold in places that seem close and yet so far away at the same time.

As racists take to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, a place only a few hundred miles from my home, I feel as though I have no power to change and influence the events occurring so close to me. But as I feel powerless, and as we feel powerless, I must not forget the power that I truly hold. Every day, we interact with countless numbers of people, and through these interactions we have the ability to unify our communities.

We choose how we treat these people during our daily lives, and the only way to combat hate is to treat everyone with respect, compassion, and empathy. Not only can we encourage unity through these actions, but we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our communities to do so.

And with these actions, we return a feeling of power to our powerless selves. However, it is not enough only to treat others with compassion; we must stand up to intolerance within our communities, too.

Through the combination of compassion and action we can change and influence our communities in positive ways, and, eventually, we can influence the vast world beyond the people and places that surround our homes. As Ronald Regan famously said, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table,” and in this case, our communities are the dinner tables that will change America.