People gather on a corner near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., where a shooter opened fire Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, injuring multiple people. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

People gather on a corner near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., where a shooter opened fire Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, injuring multiple people. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Discord and fear: We reap what we sow

Should we really be surprised where we’re going?

Rose Mallinger was 97 years old when she was shot dead inside a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday.

Melvin Wax was 88; husband and wife Sylvan and Bernice Simon were 86 and 84 respectively.

In all, the youngest of the 11 people gunned down was David Rosenthal – 54 years old with a developmental disability.

If you could draw a portrait of a coward, it would be the 46-year-old man who stole these lives – who burst into the Tree of Life synagogue, shouting anti-Semitic slurs and systematically killing this elderly collection of friends and neighbours on their Sabbath.

But he wasn’t the only coward at work last week.

The killings came just days after more than 10 pipe bombs were mailed to prominent Americans and a major news agency.

None exploded, and a suspect has been charged.

The two men share more than their cowardice. They share a deep hatred and suspicion that dark conspiracies are at work in the world.

It is an anger and fear stoked almost daily by individuals who draw their strength through discord and division.

U.S. President Donald Trump sees it differently. The real enemy, he says – “the enemy of the people” – is the media.

We’ve seen this tactic before: isolate, vilify, demonize. Repeat the lie at every opportunity until it becomes part of the background noise.

Most of us will roll our eyes and see it for what it is: a crude attempt to garner support by exploiting fear and suspicion.

But others act on the hatred. They buy their guns, make their bombs and plot their killings.

And we bury the dead, asking how it happened, when we all know the answer.