Hello Interfaith Family,
It has felt important to me to reach out during this difficult moment in our history. Having been out of town and mostly out of touch over the weekend, I am still wrapping my mind around a response to what occurred in Charlottesville, VA. Since hearing the news, I have felt many things: grief, anger, and pain, along with a fierce uprising of mother bear energy and a sense of hope as voices of peace rise above hate.
I was lucky enough to be in town for the vigil held at the Diag on Sunday night, which was truly a powerful event. Incredibly impactful words were shared, with an emphasis on waking up and standing up. We were reminded of, on the one hand, the unbearable costs of being silent in the face of such events and, on the other hand, the amazing power of coming together in peace. I felt truly honored to stand with other members of diverse faith traditions and the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice in denouncing the hate and calling on all of our strength to stand against it. It truly seems that even as the shadow continues to reveal itself in louder ways in our world, the light is pouring in with all its strength. People all over the nation (and around the world) are coming together to do amazing work, work that will no doubt change our world for the better.
For the past month or so I have been in conversation with the Washtenaw County Democratic Party Black Caucus about leading an event at the ICSG called Uncomfortable Conversations. It is an opportunity for people of all races to talk openly, even if uncomfortably, about race and issues of race. Having attended one of these events a few months ago, I was struck by how important it was and it now feels to be even more urgent. I look forward to bringing this work to the center; keep your eyes out for finalized details soon.
By way of recognizing that so many people around the country have spoken and written such valuable words in the last few days, I thought I’d share a few passages from wise souls that I have encountered that have given me strength, hope, and awakening.
From a black female student who spoke at the vigil (unfortunately I have been unable to find her name):
“Now I need you all to wake up. This is America. This is the America that black and brown people have told you about. It’s the America that black and brown people have fought for…America is flawed, it is violent, it is divided, it is unfair and unjust, it is racist, it is sexist, it is homophobic, classist, and so much more. But you know what, this is also America, all of us here, we are America. And this America is strong, determined, passionate, tolerant, black, it is brown, it is Spanish-speaking, it is queer, it is woman, and it is youth. This America is loving and it is forgiving and because of all of that, we are so much bigger and stronger than the fear that causes some of America to hurt instead of heal.”
From Marianne Williamson’s talk given in Charlottesville on 8/13:
“Love gives us power and love gives us two categories of power. Our power to say no and our power to say yes… for those of us dedicated to the auspices of love, we know love sometimes says NO…We have zero tolerance for violence directed at any human being and ladies and gentleman, this is the time for all of us in America to remember and to stand and to own the courage, the moral courage it takes to also say no to violence when it is institutionalized and when it appears in our midst. This is not a time for moral relativism…this is the time to take a stand and to say no.”
From Pastor John Pavlovitz:
“We are not with you, torch-bearers, in Charlottesville or anywhere. We do not consent to this. In fact, we stand against you, alongside the very beautiful diversity that you fear. We stand with people of every color and of all faiths, people of every orientation, nationality, and native tongue. We are not going to have this…your racism and your terrorism will not win the day.”
In honor of all of these wise words and all of the ways in which we will continue to stand for love, I’ll close with a message of prayer. May we find the strength to release any fears and reticence to stand against what we know is wrong. May each of us, in ways both large and small, work every day to stand fiercely in our love for our planet and our fellow beings everywhere. May we use our privilege to pave the way for others, to make way for the silenced to be heard. May we, each day, be reminded that today is the day to stand for light, love, and liberation.
With Ferocious Mother Bear Love,