Friends and colleagues,
Our hearts are aching once again, as yours surely are, over the senseless killings and destructively polarized responses across the nation. That the victims in San Bernardino and Colorado were public health workers, whose lives were dedicated to helping others, hits especially hard. As the discussion in the mass media again turns to terrorism and a dissection of the suspects—and as fear mounts—we must speak firmly and loudly against anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment, and for creating peace in all communities.
Fear, sadness, pain, and anger are natural responses to horrific events, but these emotions are in many ways being misdirected in public forums. We have seen that fear has led the dialogue on Islam, refugees, and immigrants to become increasingly xenophobic, creating a society that is not safe for anyone. Each time there is an event like this, the media ask: What is the problem? Is it terrorism, is it mental illness, is it guns? The truth is the problems and solutions are multi-faceted and multi-sectoral, and what’s needed is to advance a culture of greater peace and understanding, and a diminishment of hatred and its weapons.
We can’t let ignorance and fear, and the politics of fear, create unraveling, hatred, and blame against those who are most vulnerable and powerless in our country. It is this very lashing out against marginalized groups, and scapegoating of men and boys of color, that traumatizes whole communities and perpetuates the conditions and culture of violence. This divisiveness scares us, especially for the next generation, but we have the ability to express our support and create a culture of understanding, caring and hope.
We’re writing to you as colleagues not to inform you, but to encourage all of us to speak out. Now is the time to channel our pain and unite to address the barriers that keep us apart from one another. We must work together against the symptoms and causes of racism, inopportunity, and disenfranchisement. And we must heal our communities that are already long suffering from the trauma of violence.
Let us be the voice of compassion, peace, equity, and community. We know what we need to do: Speak up in the face of fearmongering and scapegoating. Stand against those eager to exploit fear and ignorance in order to further personal agendas. Work together to break down barriers that falsely separate us from one another. Together, let’s keep the vision of a peaceful future alive and serve that vision, with every word and action.
In peace and solidarity,
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