On this Saturday in Pittsburgh, PA, which I consider my hometown, there was terrible tragedy and heart wrenching sadness as yet another lunatic filled with hate opened fire on worshippers in a synagogue, targeting them only because they were Jewish.
I join all of you in expressing deep sorrow for those victims; for the 11 (at latest count) who were killed, the police officers and others who were wounded, and for the families of the victims -- as well as their friends and neighbors in the Squirrel Hill community of Pittsburgh.
I heard the news after spending the day with two young candidates for South Carolina's highest state offices -- James Smith, Democratic candidate for governor, and Mandy Powers Norell, his lieutenant governor candidate running mate.
"We must make sure we can leave a little better slice of life for everyone," Smith said during one of his campaign stops today.
It was an uplifting day as these two outstanding candidates expressed their desire and determination to serve the people of South Carolina, now my adopted home, with heart and caring and a focus on taking actions that would make their lives better.
That was in stark contrast to the hate that seems to have enveloped so much of America these days, to the point where some of us stop doing the things we enjoy with "friends" because we feel uncomfortable, possibly somehow threatened, by their strongly held opposing points of view.
It has reached the point where family members no longer communicate because of these divisions. I have experienced this personally. It is sad when brothers do not speak because they hold polar opposite views about our nation's leadership, neither one tolerant of the other.
Yesterday someone told me she was afraid to put a political candidate's sign in her front yard for fear of violent retaliation. I thought about that. We now live in a very, very red state. Yes, I fear some sort of negative retaliation could happen. But we cannot let that intimidate us.
Somehow this must change. We must stop focusing on what divides us and instead consider what could unite us. This atmosphere of fear in which many of us live today cannot be allowed to continue. We are better than this.
President Trump this evening called the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre "an assault on humanity." He was right.