Around the world the human family is grieving over the horrific terror attack that killed at least 49 of our Muslim brothers and sisters and wounded dozens more as they worshipped in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. We at Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice share our most heartfelt condolences and sympathy with that community, especially the loved ones of the victims, and offer prayers for what comfort and healing they might find.
We also intensify our commitment to stand against all forms of hatred, drawing from the wellspring of love that animates the world’s faith traditions to triumph over bigotry based on race, ethnicity, or religion. Our traditions require our constant vigilance in confronting injustice, intolerance, division, and other evils with a love that we know ultimately wins.
Amidst the rubble of what was once a beautiful mosque in Afghanistan in 2002, a boy was rocking back and forth reciting a portion of the Qur'an. I sat next to him, reminded of how he resembled children in a Jewish synagogue from my childhood, rocking back and forth as they recited Hebrew prayers. The Imam walked over and lightly touched the boy on the shoulder. He stopped praying and looked up. The Imam told the boy that I was Jewish and asked him, "What do we call Jewish people?" The boy smiled at me and responded "People of the Book." "Very good," the Imam replied as he touched his heart. With a nod from the Imam, the boy resumed reciting prayers. Muslims refer to Jews and Christians as people of the book because we share common sacred texts, the Torah, the Bible, and for Muslims, the Qur'an.
Today, as people of the book, we grieve with our Muslim siblings and the entire human family over the tragic and horrific killings in New Zealand. Apparently inspired by White Supremacist hate exported from the United States, a killer went on a rampage, killing at least 49 people, as they prayed in mosques on Friday. We must stand up against hate and violence with all of our might and do all that we can to change the hearts of those who harbor such hate, while also doing all that we can to prevent such people from being able to cause such mayhem. May we instead be inspired by the smiles of young children, who instead of harboring hate, see our interconnectedness as a human race. We are not born with hate, we are taught hate. Our task, today, tomorrow and every day is doing all that we can to sow the seeds of love, acceptance, and peace, for what we sow we shall reap, Inshallah.
...your dinner guest makes an Islamophobic comment?
...you witness public instances of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Trans or any other form of oppressive interpersonal violence or harassment?
American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) has six thoughtful and helpful tips to counteract anti-Muslim rhetoric in your conversations.
They also have bystander intervention do's and don'ts for how to intervene in public situations while considering the safety of everyone involved.
Both articles provide guidelines that may be contrary to your first instinct, however noble those may be. These are important reads!
The Rev. Dr. William Barber II riveted those gathered at Stanford Memorial Church on January 17, 2019, with a call to not shrink back from the tasks at hand, and to liberate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. so fervently needed in our world today.
Did you miss it? Or hunger to hear it again? Click here for six minutes of excerpts from his speech.
Rev. Barber is the founder of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Renewal and Repairers of the Breach.
At our October 2018 Peaceful Presence the Rev. Matthew Dutton-Gillett of Trinity Church in Menlo Park led us in this litany. The author, the Rev. Anna Blaedel, Theologian-in-Residence at enfleshed, generously gave us permission to publish it here. May it give us solace, strength and courage for the new year and beyond.
blessed are you who refuse to turn away.
blessed are you who have been calling.
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice stands in sadness and solidarity with our Jewish siblings at the news of the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, PA.
We are all part of the same human family, and the sorrow of one of us is sorrow shared by us all. Our hearts break at such violence and hatred, and we respond by coming together with courageous peace and tenacious love.
We grieve the lives lost and dreams broken in Pittsburgh, and extend our prayers to the families and friends of those wounded and killed, to Jews around the world, and especially to our own local Jewish communities.
We will stand together, cry together, pray together, and work together to build a world beyond fear and division, a world of compassion, inclusion, justice and peace.
O God of Many Names,
Mystery of all Creation,
Source of Life and Love,
You who teach our spirits to sing,
And our hearts to weep:
We gather to celebrate our oneness, to pray for peace, to stand for love, to light a candle -- in a nation and a world that seem filled with division, violence, hatred and darkness.
Give us courage to name and face the gaping wounds and evils around us:
The hatred that led to the attacks of September 11, 2001; the devastation and death of many innocent lives that day; the ensuing spiral of war, revenge and human rights violations, shattering lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and beyond, as well as lives of U.S. women and men in uniform, their families, communities, and friends.
Hatred and white supremacy – from Charlottesville to Palo Alto; xenophobia and bigotry that treat some people as disposable;
Nationalism that justifies war and torture, the build up of weapons of mass destruction, bans on Muslims and refugees, cruel immigration policies and the destruction of dreams;
Religious hypocrisy that denies the sacred image of God in each and every human being;
Ignorance that denies the real crisis of our planet, that offers weak platitudes rather than wise policies in the face of ecological catastrophe;
For all we do, and all we tolerate, that destroys the dreams of our children, of any child, for a chance to live in a just and peaceful world.
Many people asked about the wonderful poem written and read by Naiel Ahmed Chaudry (pictured left reading it at the picnic) during the Peace Picnic program on September 11, 2017.
"WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER"
... by Naiel Ahmed Chaudry
We can be boys and we can be girls
But altogether we'll shine like pearls
We can be black and we can be white
But altogether we'll have the might
We can be short and we can be tall
But altogether we'll never fall
We can be strong and we can be weak
But altogether we'll be unique
We can be poor and we can be rich
But altogether we'll make the switch
We can be fast and we can be slow
But altogether we'll make it flow
We can be right and we can be wrong
But altogether we will be strong!
We are collecting helpful resources from other organizations.
Here are some we have found so far:
Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Resource Guide - Great resource from Southern Poverty Law Center.
Do's and Don'ts for Bystander Intervention - A one page list of important guidelines from the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organization).
Everyone here has constitutional rights, and that includes Muslims, immigrants and refugeees. The ACLU has Know Your Rights posters translated into 14 languages, and provides videos in Spanish, Arabic, Urdu and Farsi on what to do if stopped by immigrant agents or the police. Click here to access these important resources from the ACLU website, and share widely!
Knowing your rights is crucial, now more than ever.