In the recent weeks we have seen an increase in stunning violence against our fellow humans. From the horrors of the Pittsburgh shootings to the threats against asylum seekers to yet another mass murder at a neighborhood nightclub, violence has touched millions of lives.
What can we do?
We offer a few steps you can take, from the fairly easy to more complex, to stop the angry actions and open peace and kindness bringing more sun in a dark and stormy world.
First, from a former Board member, Joan Leslie, something you can do quickly and easily. Following the horrors at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, her church set up a table during coffee hour where each person could write a note of sympathy and support. The address is Tree of Life Congregation, 5898 Wilkins Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. If you wish to address the note to the Rabbi, he is Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers. Otherwise general notes to the entire congregation are fine. Be prepared for the unfortunate “next time” this sort of thing happens to a group; it will occur. Stand ready to offer comfort and compassion.
Second, consider reviving our post-911 study guide, Building Bridges of Understanding and beginning a new discussion on religious tolerance. You may find the guide here. Within your own congregation you may have safe discussions about other faiths to learn what’s true – and what is not – about our fellow human beings’ faith perspectives.
Third, consider opening discussions in your community with “the other”, anyone who is not part of your congregation or neighborhood. Perhaps, as Pioneer Congregational UCC did in Sacramento, your minister and a local imam can trade pulpits to share insights into what we have in common, how we differ and why. Community dinners (being mindful of dietary laws for others, Jews and Muslims in particular) bring people together.
Fourth, reach out to groups serving those embattled – immigrants, felons, the poor, Black communities beset by police brutality and gun violence, etc. – to see how you can help. How you can become a voice for their justice by using your resources.
Fifth, hold community forums on issues within your area. Good guidelines can come from the National Issues Forum that helps develop discussions, not debates, by shaping presentations based on multiple options for growth and change, not just two sides on each concern. They have guidebooks on key concerns such as immigration and many other issues. You may find them here.
Whatever you do and however you choose to do it, bring your light and humanity to the endeavor. The only way to cast out darkness is to be the sun. Let the healing rays bring greater peace.