As an interfaith organization that spans our continent, the Board of the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) calls for immediate and collective action to overcome racism and all forms of hatred, violence and discrimination that divide us. Covid-19 has taught us that we must find remedies and vaccines for what ails us. We also must develop remedies and vaccines against racism and other harmful forms of discrimination.
We stand together with those people of good-will who are protesting in support of black and brown lives, who are hurt, enraged, and dejected by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and sadly, many more. What has happened to these individuals should wake us up! We must work together to eliminate any form of white supremacy or white privilege, whether patent or latent. And we must work together to assure that the vision of equal rights for all becomes a reality.
We should also be aware that this has also happened to large numbers of people over many years. When we consider the genocides of the world, whether it is the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis, collaborators and those that remained silent, or the genocides of Indigenous people, Yazidis, and many more, we must now devote an important amount of time and effort in our lives, to make sure that acts of hatred, whether individually or in large numbers, cease. We can no longer just be silent.
While we now have video that brings it “home to us” in a way that we cannot escape, the level of hate, lack of empathy, and indifference that has been going on for a very long time, must be recognized as a long standing problem, and not something that is new. The video is new. The hatred is not new. We must fully awaken now, and it must not be temporary.
We must be willing to give up ways of the past, even matters we may have highly valued, if examination reveals that it has patent or latent messages that promote racism and other unhealthy and traumatic results for anyone. Everything must be open for reexamination in light of the world we really want where people and all sentient beings can live in peace and harmony. This will not be easy. And it will not be comfortable. But it is truly necessary,
There are no words to describe the horrors that have been endured or witnessed. Grieving is important, but after the grieving, we must act in peaceful but active ways to eliminate the institutionalized racism, sexism and other harmful tools of discrimination. These are so embedded, that at times it can go unnoticed. We must now notice. We must come together not only in protest, but with proposals that assure that those who have more power over others, do not abuse it, and are trained to be compassionate.
Hatred because of race, faith, belief system, ethnicity, gender identification, and other factors, must not be tolerated any longer, whether patent, latent, or by silence.
At NAIN, we are committed to make this part of our permanent mission. We are keenly aware that we need more diversity in our own leadership, advisory councils, and membership. This will be a major part of our work, not only at this point in time, but continually.
We must come out of denial. We must recognize that this problem persists in institutions and the psyche of individuals and society. We must look at ourselves. What is it that each one of can do individually and collectively to better ourselves and society? How much time and effort must each one of us devote to reaching out to what may be considered “the other? Is “the other” in our circle? The Interfaith Movement and NAIN helps provide opportunities to bring people in our circle, that is sometimes difficult to accomplish in our modern busy society. Yet this is important for us as individuals and on a collective level as well.
We will continue to work together to improve our institutions and relationships among all people. Please help us with this effort. And it is not just about us. I encourage everyone reading this, to take one more vow, one more commitment, and one more undertaking to tackle this problem that has been a plague throughout known history. We can do it. It will never be healed until it is. But we must never give up trying.
Often, faith-related organizations point to scriptures to illustrate these points. As an Interfaith Organization consisting of many faiths, belief systems and ways of life, I encourage us all to find the beautiful common elements that span the diversity of humanity, like the weave in our new NAIN logo, including the values of the golden rule, acts of charity and kindness, and so much more.
It is time to get involved. There are many resources available today. NAIN is one of them. May we all pick a path of peaceful action and go for it!
Love and Blessings,
Chair, North American Interfaith Network (NAIN)