A short time ago, June 22, I posted a blog “A Week From Hell” and it was mostly personal although it included the June 12 massacre in Orlando that put things into perspective. Then one of my heroes, Elie Wiesel, died on July 2, and I quoted him that day as a memorial: “I swore never to be silent whenever & wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.” How prophetic, unfortunately!
Five days later, July 7, during a week of celebrating the founding of this country, we had Dallas to deal with and coming to terms with all that it means. Elie Wiesel also said that it is the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide.
Whether we are Anglo, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Native, or whatever, we live in a country founded on the principles of “liberty and justice for all” words embedded in the pledge of allegiance. However, our freedom exists only to the extent of our moral and ethical responsibilities to honor freedom and justice by being actively engaged in the struggles against oppression and injustice.
It is important to speak up, to take sides, to take a stand. It is equally important to get involved and take action, preferably non-violent, peaceful action. I am reminded once more of the 60’s and our work to integrate housing, education and employment and all the resistance and backlash that came along with it. We have made some progress since then but obviously not nearly enough.
I remember vividly MLK Jr. insisting on the moral imperative of equal rights for all people regardless of skin color. I would add to that civil and human rights for all people regardless of their ethnicity, national origins, gender, sexual preference or identity, socio-economic status, physical and mental ability. What else could equal rights for all people possibly mean? The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is evidence that morality cannot be legislated.
We need to continue telling people what’s wrong, condemning bad behavior and holding people accountable for their actions. But, we also need to help people focus on what’s right, reward and reinforce positive behavior and applaud those who, in the face of opposition and intolerance, respond with peaceful and loving acts of working together for the common good.