It feels as if every day a message in one platform or another is shared about violence in our own community, across our nation, and throughout our world. Just in the past few weeks alone, our Whatcom County community has been rocked by a random violent homicide on a local trail, and by a domestic violence homicide and a suicide within a home. Within the past few days we've learned of the atrocious murders within a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and another school shooting. There are others, as well.
It's overwhelming and it's horrifying. Each incident is like a jolt of fresh pain, or an unearthing of an old wound. I can see that it wouldn't feel to hard to slip into a state of despondence and despair, and let a heaviness pull us into a dark place. I'm working hard in a lot of different ways to stop that from happening, and I feel a deep sense of obligation to ensure that it doesn't.
So what is the alternative? I think we need to create space to grieve for the pain and injustice, the trauma, and the hurt that that exist within our respective communities, while at the same time take action to stop its perpetuation. So how do we take action? As I reflect on this question, the answer feels like both a personal commitment, and a community wide responsibility.
One thing that I know to be true is that we need to remember, acknowledge, and carry forward our shared humanity. We need to stay connected, across our differences and throughout our communities. When we maintain and nurture connections among one another we create space for empathy, curiosity, and learning. When we are connected, we can share in one another's grief, and inspire one another's healing.
Let's remember to listen carefully, lean in to discomfort, live and breathe our values, and find ways, both big and small, to take positive, productive steps to strengthen our community.
What does this look like? I was struck by the Jewish nurse and hospital president who compassionately greeted and served the person who had just taken the lives of so many innocent people. I was moved by hearing about so many people participating in recent local showings of "Dawnland" - a documentary examining a recently formed Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Maine in response to the harm done to indigenous peoples. And today, I am inspired by the staff and volunteers here, at the WDRC, working each and every day to hold space for difficult conversations, to build skills to stay present and engaged with one another, and to facilitate connection and compassion.
I feel fortunate to live and work in a place with such deep capacity for care and community. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal." I am honored to be on that journey with each of you.