As I sit to write this, we are less than nine days away from the general election. It’s also been one horrifying news cycle after another. Last week, a man walked into a synagogue and opened fire, killing 11 people while spewing anti-Semitic hatred. Two African-Americans were killed for being black in a Kroeger. The shooter in that case had been unable to enter a predominantly black church.
Historically, people died in the fight against racism – and people are still dying. The antidote to hate has always been, and will continue to be, love: love and acceptance. Love thy neighbor as thyself, even if, especially if, your neighbor worships a different faith, is of a different race, is from another country or speaks a different language. This country’s foundation was built on the strength of our diversity coupled with a shared vision, strong work ethic and the belief in the concept of liberty and justice for all.
I have to believe that our community is better than what we’re seeing across the country and the world. But at the same time, I know that every time we see another incident of violence motivated by some group’s thought of supremacy there is a community that is shocked and heartbroken and asking how that could happen here.
We’re coming up on the holiday season, a time when we gather friends and family in a spirit of thanksgiving and friendship (it’s important to acknowledge that it is a holiday that contains painful memories and trauma for many Native peoples).
I think there are two things that are important for each of us to do this Thanksgiving season, the first is to not look away; people are suffering, people are hurt, people are scared and we need to acknowledge that. Secondly, get involved in the community, volunteer at a food bank, become a mentor, help someone learn to read. Anything, just get out there and do your part (whatever you can, however you can) to build and strengthen the foundation of our community and the bonds between neighbors in our community.
Love is required to fight hate, but it is not enough to say you love your neighbor if you don’t know them. Love is active, it is something you do continuously. As the African Proverb says, “If you wish to go fast go alone, if you wish to go far go together.”
As we head into this season of Thanksgiving, let’s all make an effort to come together, be better together and move our community forward together. Let’s actively practice CommUnity.
I love you Flagstaff, and I’ll see you out there. FBN
By Coral Evans
Coral Evans is the mayor of Flagstaff.