It's this: the symbolism of them carrying torches. Something about that apparently goes back to a primordial bit of the brain that keeps the fear going. Maybe it's the shared ancestral memory of towns and cities burning centuries ago -- every one of us has, somewhere in our history, some ancient family member who was burned out of a home in some war or other. (I can tell you that my own ancestral fear of being burned out goes back two generations, to when my grandfather's blacksmith's shop went up in flames in midwinter, and it was a hard fight by the local fire brigade to keep the house nearby from going up as well. If both hadn't been next to the river, the family would have been homeless.) But the point is that something nearly primordial in us sees campfires as friendly (we cook over them) and torches as hostile, unfriendly and dangerous. And when it's a mob with torches? Especially dangerous and frightening.
And those of us who post and repost news items are spreading images of torches. We're doing the frightening for them and keeping it going. Think about what happened when we kept seeing the Twin Towers collapsing in the weeks after 9/11, when the horror and the fear just did not go away because those images kept feeding it.
So this is what I am asking you to do:
1. If, anywhere on any social media, you have posted a picture from Charlottesville with torches in it, please delete it. Or edit it so it's a bunch of ugly white men without torches. We already know what happened there -- everyone knows. We don't have to see that picture any more. We don't have to spread their message of hate for them. That's not our job.
2. Take extra care to keep your own mind free from that image, and from the fear that it and other images of the Charlottesville riot can foster. Make sure to spend time with loving pets, or out in nature, or with people you love or doing things you care about. Make sure to put joy in your life on purpose, not by accident, in whatever way pleases you. Take time to appreciate good things around you. Joy and appreciation are powerful weapons against fear; they set the ground for generosity, caring and peace.