Less than six months ago I issued a statement condemning the domestic terrorist attack on the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue – struggling to find words that spoke to the heinous violence. Today, three days after the attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, I find myself in the same situation.
Words are not enough. Statements are not enough. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. And, yet, as inadequate as they are, I offer them. They are but one small way to show my love, support, and sorrow. As I travel in the Philippines this week, doing the work of the church, I also grieve. I grieve with the friends and families of those who lost their lives; I grieve with Muslim people around the world and in my own community; and, most especially, I grieve with my friends and colleagues at CST. This is unspeakable loss.
As people of faith, we must do more than grieve and condemn. We must do the work necessary to end Islamophobia and xenophobia by working to dismantle systemic racism, growing nationalism, and white supremacy. So I write to you today with an invitation to action. In the coming days, weeks, months, and years, may we be united in:
- Reaching out. Offer condolences, donations, and friendship to people who may or may not look like, think like, or worship like you. Offer your faith spaces, offices, and homes to educate, to pray, and to be in solidarity with one another.
- Speaking out. Urge local and national leaders to respond swiftly, compassionately, and justly. Interrupt racial slurs and rhetoric in your homes, offices, grocery stores, Little League fields – whenever and wherever you hear it. Use your social media platforms to widen your sphere of influence.
- Showing up. Organize. Pray. Rally. Hold vigils. Cross whatever boundaries (self-made or inherited) have been used for centuries to divide and denigrate. Begin or renew the sacred work of interreligious partnerships.
- Digging in. Once the headlines have shifted, do not allow white supremacist ideology to continue to be normalized. We swim in racist waters. Listen to the words. Analyze the media. Be willing to call yourself out. Lean into the discomfort.
- Stepping back. Look for the good. Allow others to share the load. Practice self-care.
In these actions (and others) may we be united in doing our part to end the violence and bloodshed marking our generation.
Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan
Claremont School of Theology, President