What is the message our society is giving to students like Meghan Scott Curran from Falmouth, who is performing at Footlights Theatre in a play about the Holocaust?

Through the voices of survivors, including the late and well-beloved Kurt and Sonja Messerschmidt of Portland, she has learned about the atrocities Nazis committed and the compassion and resilience that overcame hate.

But she also has learned that hate did not stop when the iron gates of concentration camps were finally flung open 73 years ago. Between March 8, when the play opened, and March 17, according to the Portland Press Herald, the theater received 11 anti-Semitic hate calls.

In the same week, Republican legislative candidate Leslie Gibson, who was unopposed, verbally attacked on Twitter two students who survived the shootings in Parkland, Florida, calling one “a skinhead lesbian” and the other “a bald-faced liar.”

Within hours after Gibson’s comments, he had two opponents, a Democrat and a fellow Republican. Republican state Sen. Amy Volk said on social media that Gibson shouldn’t run for office. And then, poof, he was gone from the race.

Meghan’s mom Carolyn Thomas attributes the expressions of hate to the political climate today, and evidence shows they are on the rise.

But there’s another message for Meghan and fellow students everywhere, made apparent from their actions after the shootings in Parkland. They are the ones who convinced Dick’s Sporting Goods, L.L. Bean, Walmart and others to change their policies on gun sales.

The message is: It’s important to speak up for your principles, speak up against those who hate and speak the truth, even if your voice shakes. It’s something we all need to do to fight against hate.

Bonny Rodden

Maine Council of Churches

Falmouth