Many of us have been in great discomfort and turmoil since the 2016 United States elections as “anti” everything sentiments have turned extreme:
- anti-anything that doesn’t appear to be white, wealthy and predominantly male.
The perception that our current political administration supports these notions has made it possible for extremists to voice their hatred and vitriol in ways that did not seem possible in this day and age. Neo-Nazism and anti-semitism have come out of the “closet;” when it seemed as if we were making strides in the LGBTQ arena, we have gone backwards instead; and any people of color or look as if they are from a place of non-American origin do not feel safe on US soil – even if they were born here.
The events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA and our US president’s response have brought these issues to a boiling point.
Our United States Constitution begins with the words: “We the People of the United States…” This country is the country of the PEOPLE of America. And it is time that the PEOPLE of our country remember our roots, our origins, how we came to be living in this great country in the first place.
We are a nation of immigrants, very few of us are “native Americans” (with the exception of the Native Americans, of course).
Most of us are in the United States because either we or someone in our family background wanted a better life, a life of opportunity and the United States was able to provide that. When we took our oath of citizenship we recited the pledge of allegiance which states that our beautiful country provides “justice and liberty for ALL.” It is a time to make sure that our country does indeed provide “justice and liberty” for ALL its citizens.
This past Sunday, it was so heartening to see hundreds of thousands of good, kind, caring, passionate people gathering all over the United States at hastily arranged vigils in a response to the rally in Charlottesville.
We took to heart the words of Holocaust survivor, humanitarian and social activist Elie Wiesel who said:
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
I was so proud of my congregation, who came out in large numbers with barely any notice. Many had never done anything like this before. However, we are living in unusual times and they felt compelled to act.
And these unusual times call us to action.
It is not enough to simply gather together. We need to become the change we want to see in our country.
The Torah teaches us: Justice justice shall you pursue (Deuteronomy 16:20) This passage, along with the notion that God made all humans in the divine image (Genesis 1:27) is part of what forms my moral compass. These two biblical values should impel us to speak up, take action and involve ourselves in the work necessary to make our country be a place of safety, security and peace for all.
There are many ways to respond:
The Reform Movements Religious Action Center published a guideline for action: Six Ways to Respond
Join with other like-minded people in your own community.
Write, call, email your senators, representatives and the President.
I pray for the day that we will see the realization of the prophet Isaiah’s words:
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb
The leopard lie down with the kid.
Nothing evil or vile shall be done;
For the land shall be filled with devotion to the Eternal.
Isaiah 11 6 & 9