The events of this weekend send us once again into the shock and grief that has become familiar in a way once thought unimaginable.

And while we unequivocally condemn this heinous targeting of our Jewish friends for no other reason than who they are;

And while we have, and will always, stand in solidarity with the Jewish Community;

We know more must be done.

When the Anti-Defamation League reports a 57% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in ONE year, we must look deeply at ourselves, our country and our collective culture. Can we write off these murders as fringe behavior and move on or is it time to consider whether the divisions in this country are providing space for this lethal combination of violence and bigotry to grow?

The Jewish Community in this country has been a leader fighting hate, how many more years will we ask them and other communities to keep fighting this fight? Can we not do better? Can we not be guided by the “better angels of our nature” that Lincoln believed could and would reunite a battered post-civil war nation?

Make no mistake, the Jewish Community is not alone in being targeted for who they are. Locally our hate crimes and incidents have been on the rise for three years. Men from this county have been arrested for allegedly traveling across state lines with the intent to incite or participate in riots. They have been identified as members of a groups described as a “militant white supremacist group that espouses anti-Semitic and other racist views.”

And while we at OC Human Relations would never claim that these men represent who we are as a county, we will claim with great confidence that we who do not share these bigoted beliefs have the ability and the moral obligation to be a force against this hateful violence.

Start where you can… learn about these issues, seek to understand those who are different, never compromise your ability to see the humanity of another. Don’t wait for someone to tell you how – start where you can. Make mistakes, apologize and listen. Learn and grow. Be uncomfortable. For in the end, to paraphrase Martin Niemoller, if we do not speak for others who will be there to speak for us?