Faith Leaders, Leaders of Conscience, Pastor express grief at shooting
Sr. Pat Millen, OSF; Naghmana Sherazi, a Leader of Conscience, and Venerable Chodron, Abess of Sravasti Abbey, read a statement from the Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience at the Oct. 30 vigil at Temple Beth Shalom.
We, the Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience of Eastern Washington and North Idaho stand in deepest sorrow with you, our Jewish neighbors and friends.
We mourn the 11 Jews who died in the massacre at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We ache, also, for those injured, for the families, and the congregation—knowing that they are in physical, mental and spiritual pain. Challenging though it is, we ache for the confused and tortured heart of the killer, whose hatred has wrought so much sorrow.
The attack comes at a time when we are seeing anti-Semitism rising in our country. In recent years, overt expressions of hate have intensified, escalating to this point. Like you, everyone here and the people of Squirrel Hill, we are devastated.
This terrorism makes us particularly aware of the hate you, our Jewish neighbors and friends, have experienced in this region. We grieve when even one Jewish person's humanity and dignity is threatened. We grieve for our country.
We stand together in the compassion that is rooted in each of our different moral practices to declare that love for every human being will triumph over hate. Each of us will look inside ourselves to root out our own pockets of prejudice and hostility, replacing them with love. We unite with you in our collective responsibility to work to mend our world.
We lift up our voices, hearts and souls to a higher way that is known in many practices and by many names. May we gain the needed strength, even while we grieve, to be transformed from fear to love, from division to unity, from desperation to hope. Let us declare through the way we live each day that love for every human being — a love that dwells within every human being — will triumph over hate.
The Rev. Scott Starbuck of Manito Presbyterian Church then said the following at Temple Beth Shalom:
I am a friend, a neighbor, the pastor of Manito Presbyterian Church, and one ordained to be a theologian for the Church, so I hope I might dare to speak on behalf of so many gathered here as Christians.
I remember gathering together four years ago in response to the graphic violence done against this congregation. Since then, I have enjoyed many other gatherings of learning, fellowship, and faith—joyous times.
Tonight, we gather in mourning and with renewed resolve. After learning of the tragic shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue, I sent word to Rabbi Tamar and Rabbi Elizabeth that the members of Manito Presbyterian Church were outraged and that we would stand by you, that we are with you in solidarity and love.
On Sunday morning at the beginning of our services, we lit a candle for those killed, and we implored God to help us rise up and resist evil with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength; to help us confront the hate within and without that is overtaking our land. We beseeched God for an outpouring of compassion and love to overwhelm the scourge of violence besetting our communities.
We vowed to tirelessly speak up for and reach out to our Jewish brothers and sisters and all of those reeling in fear as they simply go about their daily living. Particularly, we prayed for you, our friends and neighbors who are members of the Jewish community here in Spokane.
I want you to know that we deeply appreciate the work and mission of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that helps refugees of all faiths even as we seek to support their resettlement here in Spokane through World Relief.
Speaking for your neighbors at Manito Presbyterian Church, it is without hesitation and with full and undeterred resolve that we condemn white supremacy and anti-Semitism in all of its forms—especially acts and attitudes of racist hatred and violence. It is with deep sadness that we recognize that hate crimes and acts of anti-Semitism are on the rise and, because of this, working against this growing evil requires renewed focus and constancy in our Christian churches. In this commitment we pledge a love that knows no fear.
You are our dear friends. You are partners in social justice and in faith. You are infinitely important to us.
Comments by Mayor David Condon: My heart is heavy. As a leader I'm asked in many hard moments to bring assurance and confidence… to elicit hope and encourage faith. None seem as hard as this.
Even standing here now I know there is nothing to be said that brings peace in these moments. There is no justice that feels just enough. There are no words that feel sincere enough. There is no explanation good enough.
Hatred doesn't make sense. Racism doesn't make sense. Have we not learned? How are we not better? How are we allowing our children to inherit this discontent? I've wrestled these questions all day.
But even as angry as we are today, maybe the saddest part, is how quickly these tragedies go on, forgotten. We live our lives, affected by only what affects us. Kept busy with the monotony of the day's demands. Too much competes for our attention. We are saturated, desensitized.
In 1999, 13 students were killed at Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado. 1999 before Facebook, before the news was at our fingertips. When it was HARDER to get access to information.
How many died in 2012 at Sandy Hook, 28. Or in Orlando that same year, 49. Yet when I say Columbine, it still elicits more shock, more fear, more anger than those that were more egregious, and more recent. Why is that? I dare to think because in 1999 it was in fact more shocking, less expected.
We expected it? We allow ourselves to EXPECT it? I can't accept that. It's not ok. We can't be desensitized to murder. How have we gotten here? This isn't ok. Just because something happens more than it should doesn't mean it should be less offensive, or even worse, more acceptable.
A culture that glorifies differences, selfishness, and violence – is not ok. But neither is a community numb to hatred.
We will not be that community.
Edmund Burke famously said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
There is hope. There is hope here. In this room, in this community. There is peace that surpasses understanding. There is the promise of a better tomorrow. But we must actively seek it. We are called to be IN the world.
So I urge you, as we join to lift each other and our community up today, to channel pain, anger, sadness, hopelessness – whatever it is you are rightfully feeling in this moment. And use it for good. There are so many people in this community making a difference, leading the charge against complacency in our backyard. And we need more.
Just to name a few, the Spokane Human Rights Commission, the City-Interfaith Council – both of these among many others are advocating for a better future in this community, promoting respect, understanding, acceptance – basic rights that should not be in question.
We must, as Gandhi often preached, "be the change we wish to see in the world."
The next move is ours. Let's make it in love.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, December, 2018