As a parent raising children, we are responsible for teaching them innumerable lessons. Some of those lessons are intended to teach them how to deal with big issues as well as minor blips on the radar of life.

Along with teaching my son and later my young daughter that curse words were not an appropriate way to communicate under any circumstance, there was a word I added to the list.

The word was hate.

I have always believed when a person allows hate to take up residence in their heart, it will dim the special love light that God instills in all of us at birth.

People are not born hating. It is not part of your DNA. Like so many other bad habits, it is learned behavior.

Unfortunately, we are living in a social climate that breeds hate. It is no longer simply not liking something or someone, it is hating it and wanting to destroy it.

We are living in a pandemic of our own creation and it is called hate.

The recent shooting in Atlanta is just the latest example of hate gone too far.

Federal agents have joined the investigation into shootings at three Atlanta-area spas that left eight people dead, the majority of which were Asian women.

Authorities have arrested a 21-year-old suspect but say they are still trying to determine the motive for the shootings. They have yet to call the incident a hate crime but have not ruled it out as a possibility.

The reason for that is authorities say these latest killings come amid a growing number of anti-Asian hate incidents. Recent statistics show there have been nearly 3,800 incidents of violence against Asian individuals during the pandemic.

It does not take an expert to understand that hate should be considered a factor in any action that takes the life of another human being.

Hatred is an evil, ugly thing. The irrational dislike towards another person is one of the worst traits we have as human beings. Allowing dislike to manifest into hatred shows a lack of moral character.

The definition of a hate crime is when bias motivates an unlawful act. American history has recorded a great many incidents of hate crimes.

A young white man opens fire and kills nine African Americans church goers who welcomed him into their Bible study group at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. His actions were just one in this country’s long history of violence and hatred toward African Americans.

The sad story of Brandon Teena, a transgender student who was raped and killed because of his gender identity issues shows the depth of hatred people can have for those who do not measure up to their idea of what is normal. Most incidents of this type are based on fear of things they do not understand.

Matthew Shepard was murdered because he was gay. Even though his death occurred years ago, there are still lingering prejudices and hatred toward gay people today. Even though there are laws against discrimination, it still exists.

The death of Luis Ramirez reflected the reality of anti-immigration violence in the United States. Luiz was targeted for being an immigrant and beaten to death while having racial slurs thrown at him as he lay dying. Due to the current political climate, being an immigrant in this country has made this group a target for anti-immigrant hatred.

The Southern Poverty Law Center defines a hate group as an organization or group of individuals who share similar beliefs and attack or malign an entire class of people. These organizations vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to federal authorities, the number of hate groups in the United States is on the rise. The fact they are finding more ways to communicate via social media in order to coordinate events is disconcerting.

They are on a mission to divide us, and it is our responsibility to ensure their actions do not define us.

Hate tears at the very soul or our society and brings fear to entire communities.

As a country, we have made some progress, but stereotyping and unequal treatment still exists.

When hate flares up, good people need to rise up against it with stronger and louder voices than the haters. Hate must be countered with goodness.

Silence in the face of hatred is deadly. When we are apathetic towards acts of violence, it is seen as acceptance of those who have committed the offensive acts.

If uncontested, hate persists and thrives.

Hate speech is not the only one that has a First Amendment right. We need to use that right to shine a light on hatred and those who would perpetuate it with their words and actions.

Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at

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