Hate knows no bounds
by Sue Robin, Los Angeles, California
One doesn’t expect to face rampant Anti-Semitism in one’s own backyard. This place, called home for more than thirty years, is one that looks out at tall trees and hillsides filled with wildlife. It has always been a joy and a respite to come home to, no matter what was going on in the world. It is hard to wrap my head around what is happening now.
The neighborhood has been a connected one. We have dined at several neighbors’ homes, and they have dined at ours. We have gone to the movies and the Hollywood Bowl together. We have loaned tools and cups of sugar or a couple of eggs when the need arose. We have been there for each other through deaths and illnesses and construction projects, but yesterday we received chilling and unthinkable news.
A man for whom I lovingly painted a doggie portrait when his pet died and who we have socialized with on several occasions, stopped in front of another neighbor’s home and let loose a diatribe laced with Anti-Semitic hate speech. The police and the Anti-Defamation League were called.
We learned that he had an incident almost a year ago with his next-door neighbor and that they had sufficient evidence to warrant a restraining order. His guns were removed. He was verbally abusive with this couple and poured water on her head, amongst other things. My mouth is agape. My heart is wounded, and my emotions are flying in a gazillion directions.
I know the perpetrator knows I, too, am a Jew. He has brought us homemade jam, veggies from his garden, and his mom to brunch here. No longer do I wish to stop for a neighborly chat or meet his new dog.
This is mental health awareness month. Is this a mental health issue? Has he been ill all this time? Did I miss something? Is this a new illness? I am a retired therapist and thought I was aware, but what my heart keeps asking is, How did hate find its way here?
In less than a month. I will have been on this big blue dot for seventy-five years. The atrocities of WWII hung heavy in the air at my birth, my young years saw the Korean Conflict, the Civil Rights Movement, the Viet Nam War, and on and on. These retirement years have seen an exponential increase in violence and hate crimes, not to mention a deadly pandemic and the destruction caused by climate change.
Each generation hopes to leave the world a bit better for our children and grandchildren. There is a deep sadness I will carry to my grave knowing that those I love must live in a world filled with ugliness. I pray that they will know that while hate knows no bounds, it is equally true that love knows no bounds either.