[Episcopal Diocese of Michigan] Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Bigotry, hatred and fear have resulted in the loss of life in Virginia this past weekend. Violent, detestable and racist actions do not just affect those who were physically present; they ripple across the country and around the world and continue to wound us physically, mentally and emotionally. And, regrettably, we have not had the reassurance of a strong moral voice from the “Leader of the Free World” unequivocally denouncing those whose main focus is prejudice, intolerance and narrow-mindedness. What a disgrace!
In light of this news and the current state of our nation, it may feel to some that all is lost. Others may believe that we are too divided to ever become the Beloved Community we strive to be. Yet, as Jesus’ disciples, commanded to bring God’s love and justice to the oppressed; to speak the truth of God’s love, and to pray for those with hate and violence in their hearts.
When we see these evil acts of violence and intolerance, ours must be the voices and actions of protest and prayer. We must know that we have the ability and the responsibility to change the world and to change the hearts of the hateful. Together can begin to heal our wounds: to listen to each other and to create a future of hope, compassion and love. The dreams of those who have marched and protested and cried out for justice in the past require our action – our labor – to become reality. All is not lost!
As Nelson Mandela has written and President Barack Obama has quoted: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
We have work to do teaching love: from the mansions of the State to the houses of the poorest among us. It is not going to be easy, and it is work that must be done for the cause of justice and because it is the work of the Jesus Movement.
May there be peace among us.
The Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr.