Image courtesy of the author.
Carnegie Mellon University

Commentary: From a Portland girl to America

On the eve of Memorial Weekend, the nation reeled from a horrific attack on a Portland, Ore. train by a white supremacist on three Good Samaritans because the latter tried to intervene on behalf of two young girls to whom the white supremacist was hurling insults at.

It’s pure terrorism, spurned on by intolerance of those who look different or believe in something different. An overly large ego drove a person to terrorize two strangers and violently attack three heroes.

For a moment, it seemed like evil had won: while the murderer was alive and in police custody, the heroes were either killed or badly injured, just because they had the courage to confront hatred head-on.

But the seeming victory of evil was short-lived. Because ultimately, we as a community stand against hate and stand for kindness.

The heroes who stood up for the young girls being insulted were the ultimate example of bravery, and their actions have inspired more kindness in others. As just one example of this, a Muslim-led fundraiser raised over $167,000 for the victims in just one day. Thousands of dollars more were raised via other donation and sharing campaigns to support the victims. And that’s the loving, tolerant Portland community that I know. The America I know.

Historically, we as a nation have certainly been in the wrong, often severely– after all, America prospered partly due to slave and low-wage labor. Today’s political climate is also often negative, led by a man who campaigned to the presidency based on the racial and religious fears of part of the electorate against people perceived to be “different.” Unfortunately, this kind of rhetoric often emboldens deranged or violent people to commit crimes against the rhetoric’s targets.

It can seem hopeless sometimes. But it’s never too late to show some kindness or help someone out. You never know what kind of difference it can make; your personal actions are more powerful than you know.

There will always be people who espouse hateful views, which have existed since the dawn of time. But there will always be many more who make kindness a pillar of their lives. Thus, each time someone does something violent in order to try to remake the world in a more hateful image, the majority of good people flood the world with kindness in their wake.

We are united against hate because that represents the best of ourselves that we aspire to be. Hate shows cowardice; the hater is not brave enough to confront something or someone who does not fit into their narrow, egotistical worldview. But kindness is humble and powerful; it is tolerant and a giver of happiness; it is the only antidote to hate.

This is the message from a Portland girl to all of America: no matter what hate can do, kindness is ready to fight back; because darkness cannot triumph over light; because hate cannot triumph over love.