Today our community is in shock following killings that have made national headlines, and which were almost certainly motivated by hate.
The three murders took place at Jewish facilities in our community: the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom retirement center. Although these two facilities fall under the umbrella of the Jewish community in our area, they are fully a part of the fabric of life in Overland Park.
Our children perform in excellent community theater productions through JCC. Our public school teachers direct these same productions. Our kids participate in sports through JCC leagues. Our brightest young singing talents take part in an annual JCC-sponsored singing competition that provides significant scholarships. My oldest daughter’s best friend worked at Village Shalom all through high school. My son and his girlfriend visit a resident there weekly and sing her favorite “oldies” – the one piece of reality she hangs on to in her twilight years. My two girls have sung and played for the Village Shalom residents.
I don’t imagine there are many citizens of Overland Park whose lives haven’t been touched in one way or another by the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom.
Today we grieve. We hug each other, we share our shock and pain.
From no one have I heard today any words of hate directed toward the perpetrator of these murders. Social media and news outlets are concentrating on pulling together to face the pain.
I often rail against the rampant “affluenza” in our high-income suburban community. Our nickname, “the bubble,” is generally apt. Overland Park residents for the most part live a cushy life, isolating ourselves from the difficulties of reality dealt with every day by those with less money, less education, and fewer opportunities. I sometimes forget that there is so much about this place that is fundamentally good.
But today I am proud of my community. The only way to tip the balance from hate to love is to show love, to live forgiveness, to embrace all.
Dona nobis pacem.