I traveled to Kansas City (my first time!) to speak on a panel entitled "Common Good: Interfaith Action in Response to Violence and Injustice." The panel was sponsored by American Public Square in Kansas City, an organization that brings together non-like-minded people for civil conversation on the important issues of our day. They even have a civility bell that can be rung by audience members if the tone of the conversation veers from civility, as part of their mission is seeking to improve the tone and quality of public discourse. The bell was thankfully not needed tonight; however, I'm excited that they gifted each of us with a civility bell to bring home and add to our toolbox.
I am grateful for this invitation to further articulate my beliefs about how we will get ourselves out of the mess we are in and to learn from my colleagues, a UCC pastor from Nebraska whose PhD is in Hebrew Bible, and a young Imam originally from Philadelphia who now serves a community in Kansas City. Our conversations focused on both the inner work and outer work needed to respond to violence and injustice.
The conversation is worth watching and can be found here. The program begins at minute 23:08. I share my reflections about being present in Charlottesville and responding to hate groups, starting around 1:04:38. We discuss the role of our sacred texts in relating to current events at 44:12.
I dedicate this post to the community of Parkland, FL, reeling from the trauma of the death of 14 students and 3 staff in a high school mass shooting. This is yet another wake-up call that it is time to find the courage and wisdom to stop further gun violence in this country. It is time to seek out ways to offer mentorship and support to young people who are feeling alienated and frustrated. It is time for guns to be taken out of the hands of those who do not know how to use them responsibly. May we, the American people, choose life and love.