From Grieving to Galvanizing

Dear Friends,

Our hearts are heavy with grief for the families who lost loved ones this weekend in Dayton and El Paso.  We also mourn the victims of the more than 250 mass shootings that have taken place this year, many fueled by hate.

We all want to live in communities that are safe, and where all of us  -regardless of where we were born, our race, religion, ability, or who we love – can belong.  To welcome and be welcomed is a value at the core of American society and of democracies around the globe.  And today, this value is being deeply tested.

Throughout our history, hate and violence have long been used as instruments not only to terrorize individual communities, but to cement a fear of the ‘other’ that holds all of us back from our potential.   

Whether the burning of mosques, churches and temples, lynchings of African Americans under Jim Crow, or attacks on immigrants during every wave our nation has seen – the chaotic nature of this violence prompts us to seek peace, but often without speaking to the underlying nature of the conflict.   

We have reached the limits of a tolerant society. Today our task is to dig deeper – to uncover and move past the root fears, racism, and belief systems that leave too wide a chasm between our ideals and the everyday experience of freedom and equality.  To live with the shadow of terror hanging over ourselves and our neighbors is not freedom, but oppression.  And in this way, othering and racism oppresses us all, regardless of our race or identity.

As calls for unity are made, now is a time to truly see our destinies as intertwined, not only in this moment, but in the moments to follow – as we elect public officials; shape local policies to be more inclusive; challenge divisive rhetoric; and bring neighbors together to strengthen our bonds.

Ideologies of hate and the practice of violence can spread quickly, but so, too, can the counter forces of equality and belonging, and the practice of inclusive democracy – which we see lived out every day in communities. These tools are in our hands, and we have the power to wield them forcefully.   And together, we will.