Standing in the Pain, a statement from the IPP
Standing in the Pain, a statement from the IPP
As we look back over the past several months, we find it necessary to pause and reflect for a few moments. Our Nation continues to suffer the devastation of Covid-19 and the inadequate response of those in charge of our Civic and Governmental lives. We must rise beyond the politics of convenience to a higher consciousness, understanding that we form a people who must be concerned for the common good and the general welfare. Tens of thousands of people have died and are sick because of indifference, selfishness, and denial. What is beyond belief is that so many leaders and their followers claim they have the upper hand when it comes to life, liberty, faith, and justice.
As an organization dedicated to interfaith peace, The Interfaith Peace Project finds it necessary to speak out once again on behalf of those who are crying out for justice and fairness in every aspect of our society. We join with all those past and present religious leaders and prophets who warn religious leaders not to be complicit in the oppression of peoples’ rights and dignity under the false premise they are upholding traditional religious values and principles.
The lives and well-being of real people take priority over beliefs, traditions, customs, ideology, and opinions. The worth of a human being cannot be compromised by prejudice, fear, and stereotype. Religion cannot and should not be used to foster the prejudice of those who use religion to amass power, preserve their greed, and maintain the status quo of oppression. Religion without justice is idolatry. Religion without compassion is complicit in the oppression human persons should never suffer. Religious leaders and communities must stand up for values and principles by which the “Beloved Community” of humankind can flourish. We see, in the events of the past few months, four signs of the emerging “Beloved Community” in which the dignity and human rights of each and every person will be recognized, celebrated, cherished, and preserved.
(1) The protests in the United States, and throughout the World, are essentially peaceful even though the protesters have been and continue to be the object of violence. Powerful people, trying to maintain the status quo of oppression, oftentimes fuel the hatred latent in vigilante groups and individuals. The anger and rage that sometimes explodes into violent and destructive acts must be judged and understood within the context of the destruction and violence Black and Brown people have suffered since the foundation of the Nation. We see the “Beloved Community” rising as people of all races, creeds, color, and political affiliations march together right now in the common cause of liberty and justice for all.
(2) While the Sports community has often been seen as the pastime giving us a break from the tensions of the day, players across the sports spectrum are rising up in the cause of antiracism and liberation. As some have pointed out, it is not Covid-19 keeping the playing field empty but racism. The Sports Players are inviting us to take a stand and sacrifice ourselves and our wealth for the sake of ending the systematic racism fueling the killing of Black people and the oppression of powerless communities. Now a Baseball Park, a Football Stadium, an Ice Rink, Tennis Court, and a Race Track are signs of justice reminding to “fight the good fight” and cause “good trouble.”
(3) Individual persons, community groups, Zoom communities are gathering everywhere to reconsider our true American history. How we understand, examine, and teach our own history is an act of justice. The reexamination of our past affords us the opportunity to recognize our sins, discover our stated principles and values, and dedicate ourselves to building the “Beloved Community” not out of shame and guilt but out of the truth that makes us free. We are beginning to understand the past can be more honestly understood and taught when we challenge and correct revisionist racist perspectives with actual facts. We can confess our sins of racism, sexism, patriarchy, xenophobia, and homophobia to one another learning from past oppression what it means to respect and love one another as we are.
(4) Finally, the witness of women, powerfully but not exclusively, is transforming the soul of our Nation and the future of our World. We stand anew with “The Mothers of Portland” who stand with their children demanding the aggression against protesters, the passionate love for buildings, and the holding on to the status quo of racism give way to the dignity of those who take upon themselves the courage to stand with the oppressed. Women form the largest and most powerful community of voters in our Nation. Black and Brown women form the soul of that glorious community. Their voices are being heard in their tears, in their shouts of anguish, in their songs of hope, and never so powerfully as in the quiet gentle voice of Jacob Blake’s Mom, Julia, who calmly spoke to an angry World as her son is struggling to recover from seven police bullets in his back: “If Jacob knew what was going on he would be very unpleased. So, I’m really asking and encouraging everyone in Wisconsin and abroad to take a moment and examine your heart. We need healing. I also have been praying, even before this, for the healing of our country.”
All of us here at The Interfaith Peace Project are examining our hearts. With you, we hope to find that treasure of great price in the soil of our hearts so freedom might be born anew, liberty might be had for all, justice might be fair and transformative, and a “Beloved Community” of us all might be born.
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
With The Board of Directors and the Community
of The Interfaith Peace Project