Fighting Back is not the same as Forgiveness and Action
On Monday, October 29th, over 3000 people attended a local peace vigil at the Kehilath Israel Synagogue in Overland Park, KS. The purpose was to seek peace on behalf of the Jewish community and to honor the victims of the mass shooting. in Pittsburgh.
Unfortunately, our community was already familiar with hate crimes My father and son and Terri LaManno all lost their lives in a religious-bias hate crime on April 13, 2014. They were murdered at a local Jewish Community Campus in Overland Park, Kansas. In February of 2017, our city experienced another hate crime when Srinivas Kutchibola was murdered in Olathe, KS. The motive behind the shooting was hatred for Srinivas’ color and ethnicity.
I was grateful to be in attendance at the vigil and appreciated the sentiment. However, I was disappointed with some of the words chosen in response to the tragedy. I was sad that politics were brought into the conversation, specifically in regards to how we should vote. And the word “fight” was used to describe how we should react or possibly retaliate. I strongly disagree with this approach.
Forgiveness and Positive Action
Of course, we have the right to vote. And we should all exercise that right. Agreed. But I vehemently disagree that we should consider retaliating with a fight. No question we are all angry in regards to the hatred that continues to take lives. My belief, though, is that we can channel that anger into fueling deep resolve for positive change. We cannot, however, allow the anger to simmer or come to a boil. When we allow that to happen, it disrupts any strategy for communication and positive dialogue, let alone productive change.
I’d like to share the positive statements I heard and captured at the vigil:
“We are all Jews.” –Muslim presenter
“We stand together as brothers and sisters.” – Christian presenter
“ Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere .” a quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Christian presenter
“There is a time to be silent and this is not it.” – Christian presenter
I feel my heart and soul being transported back to 2014. The thoughts and feelings, gut-wrenching pain, and tears feel palpable tonight like they did during that incredibly difficult season of mourning. I begin to think through the same question I wrestled through four short years ago.
What good can come from this tragedy?
The answer that has become my life’s purpose: So much more than we expect. The awareness of the reality that evil and hate are prevalent among us is important, in itself. I, personally, was unaware of the magnitude of hate in our world prior to April 13, 2014.
Since that tragic day, I’m reminded of the hate every single day. when I walk past pictures of my dad and son, who are no longer here with me. Today, Reat would be nineteen years old, a sophomore in college. This reality still makes me feel literally sick. He’s not available for a text, a phone call, or a hug. He is only available to me through my heart, memories and the messages he somehow still manages to send me daily.
Evil and hate continue to divide us. They compartmentalize us into small factions and pit us against one another, prompting retaliation rather than forgiveness. All the while, we have commonalities that go unnoticed. We have to learn to capitalize on our shared humanity and let that be the underlying thread that connects us.
Take a look at the number of vigils being held around the world for those who lost their lives at the Tree of Life Synagogue. All around the world, we are mourning together.
Make a Difference
Rather than fight…you can make a difference…through your support of our Faith Always Wins Foundation.
If you are looking to take action, to make a difference, to learn about various religious and non-religious identities, cultures, and ethnic groups – and, ultimately, to link arms with your community – we have built a foundation upon spearheading such efforts. Please consider partnering with us. For more information, please visit faithalwayswins.org
The Faith Always Wins Foundation stands on three pillars: Kindness, Faith, and Healing. Our flagship event, SevenDays® Make a Ripple, Change the World, provides our community with opportunities for engagement and education through acts of kindness and interfaith dialogue. Our interfaith youth leadership team, and subsequent interfaith dialogue workshops, equip youth and adults in engaging in healthy conversations and interactions with people of various religious and non-religious identities. Through shared values and informative storytelling, our commonalities begin to rise to the surface. This encourages us to connect through a posture of understanding, respect, and empathy and often translates into new friendships.
Financially supporting the Faith Always Wins Foundation will assist us with these activities, which have already proven to create positive change. Our mission is to promote dialogue for the betterment of our world through kindness, faith & healing.