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We can’t go backward…

[caption id="attachment_1962" align="alignright" width="200"] Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP[/caption] I think Jimmy Fallon said it best, “We can’t go backward.” It’s been over a week since the events in Charlottesville and I’m still trying to understand how it occurred. How can one person hate another just because of their race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, etc? But it does happen and the danger is real. This is especially true with groups such as neo-Nazi’s. Richard Frankel of the University of Louisiana, Lafayette explains that Nazi’s “fought to destroy the most basic values that America has claimed to stand for over more than two centuries: the fundamental dignity and equality of all people.” Our country has come a long way in building equality for all people and we cannot allow hate groups to push us backward. Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Tipping Point, explains the rise of hate speech and rallies as backlash to the change. He states that we may be in an “extended period of backlash” as we face “overwhelming amounts of change” in a short period of time. Unfortunately, the current political climate has encouraged this backlash and it has resulted in violent rallies and the murder of innocent people. As a Sister of Peace, it’s hard to condone violence of any kind but it’s especially difficult to hear and see the violence associated with white supremacists, neo-Nazi’s or the KKK that work to damage the fundamental values of dignity and equality of all. Women have come a long way from being considered a possession but not nearly far enough. Minorities have also come a long way from slavery and Jim Crow but not far enough. Many are still enslaved by poverty, mental illness, and lack of education. They should have greater representation in government, business and church. But here’s the dilemma. These changes have left some feeling off course and left behind. It can generate the fear that turns into hate and violence. Together we must promote opportunities for all to live healthy and peaceful lives. Jesus gave us peace and compels us to make peace on the earth… to share it with others. This is the time to use nonviolent approaches to speak and act against violence. So what is the answer to how we react to hateful speech and Nazism? What we don’t do is incite or perpetuate violence on anyone no matter how much we disagree with them. We don’t provoke them or participate in shouting matches. You cannot change a person’s opinion by yelling at them. Violence only begets more violence. What can we do? Don’t show up. Let the hate speechers talk to themselves. Refuse to give them an audience. Gather together at another site. Display signs of peace, respect, dignity not hate. Pray together. Be silent. Presence is more powerful than words. Support events that promote unity and peace. Let’s not go backward by giving in to the tactics and speech of hatred and fear.  Let us move forward with peace.

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