For as long as people have lived in communities, there have been divisive ideologies that are expressed and negotiated with varying levels of civility. Under democratic governments, inherently, there is room to express those differences without fear of retribution by the state. There always are those, though, who take that expression to a level beyond what is protected and use their beliefs to justify violence against others who disagree or somehow do not represent the same ideology. There have been three tragic examples of this in the United States in recent weeks.
It began in Kansas when an anti-abortion activist shot and killed a well-known abortion doctor who was leaving his church. The irony of that action - if not its brutality - is not lost on rational people everywhere, including many pro-life advocacy groups who condemned the shooting.
The next day, a Muslim convert shot and killed two U.S. soldiers outside a recruiting center in Arkansas, citing America's presence in the Middle East as justification.
The most recent episode took place Wednesday at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., when a white supremacist opened fire, killing a black security guard who had opened the door for the man.
The senselessness of these killings is surpassed only by their heartbreak. The three men alleged to have committed the murders do nothing to further their causes, but should give us all pause to consider the danger of monomaniacal thinking when left unchecked.
Hatred is powerful emotion, and when it is combined with a political or social ideology - regardless of its content or geography - can have devastating results.