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Tragedy struck again in California

Non-Violence – a sculpture by Karl Fredrik Reutersward at UN Headquarters in New York

Friends

Last night, three men were fatally shot and nine others were injured in a shooting at a Halloween party. Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action Network—religious peace activists from across the globe—took note that once again, the U.S. suffers from such violence. They are both concerned and outraged at the escalating rate of mass shootings taking place in the U.S. I am proud to share their words. 

We are Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action Network: Religiously motivated peace activists from armed conflicts across the world and recipients of the Peacemakers in Action Award. Spanning different religions, beliefs and conflicts, we have experienced violence and reconciliation. We know the pain of loss, the destruction engendered by hatred, and the possibilities of peace.

The Peacemakers in Action Network is dedicated to conflict transformation and reconciliation. Our vision is to build a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world. As individuals who work to resolve armed conflicts, we stand together and raise our collective voice to denounce developments that threaten peace and human security.

Today, with profound sadness, we call on the people and the lawmakers of the United States to stop the proliferation of dangerous weapons across the U.S. and the rhetoric of hate that is fueling America’s epidemic of mass shootings.

This summer alone, mass shootings have left over 120 people dead, and many more survivors and families who will long carry their wounds. Tragedy struck again in California yesterday, where 3 people were killed at a Halloween party and too many others injured. As a Network, we are deeply pained and outraged. We work in 23 global conflicts and dedicate our lives to peace within our own communities—and we are heartbroken to see the United States, once a beacon of hope for all of us, devolve into repeated outbreaks of preventable violence.

Responsible societies throughout the world regulate and control weapon ownership and availability, especially military-style weapons of war along with high capacity ammunition. As a result, the citizens of these responsible countries live in greater security and safety. Incomprehensibly, this responsibility continues to elude the United States government at the expense of thousands of victims every year.

To those who support the current legislative inaction, ignore the overwhelmingly popular demand for change, and oppose comprehensive reform, we say to you: Your choice is tantamount to participating in these crimes. The guilt of those who fire the weapons at innocent civilians is shared with those who stand in the way of reasonable and responsible laws and policies.

We stand in solidarity with the women and men across the United States, and the world, urging U.S. lawmakers and weapons manufacturers to take overdue action on these crimes fueled by hate and misunderstanding. Only by doing this can the U.S. put an end to the reactionary cycles of violence that have become systemic in a nation once revered for its ideals and freedoms, and halt the spread of the very same weapons that go on to enable violence and conflict around the world.

Protecting humanity is a primordial need, and it is through reflecting inward, to the wisdom of our faith traditions, that we are reminded of our interdependence and that violence perpetrated against one group of people is violence directed at us all.

As Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists, we offer these reminders from the books of Genesis and the Quran:

Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 27

So God created humankind in God’s own image, in the image of God He created them;
male and female God created them.

Al Quran 7:56

And create not disorder in the earth after it has been set in order
and call upon Him in fear and hope.
Surely, the mercy of Allah is nigh unto those who do good.

Life is sacred, and it is our mission not to harm it, but to protect and honor it.

Peacemakers in Action Network

Dr. Sarah AK Ahmed – Iraq
José “Chencho” Alas – El Salvador
Betty Bigombe – Uganda
Abuna Elias Chacour – Israel/Palestine
Ricardo Esquivia – Colombia
Maria Ida “Deng” Giguiento – Philippines
Azhar Hussain – Pakistan
Dr. Ephraim Isaac – Ethiopia
Father Sava Janjic – Kosovo
Dishani Jayaweera – Sri Lanka
Hind Kabawat – Syria
Dr. Yehezkel Landau – Israel/USA
Dr. William Lowrey – USA/South Sudan
Rev. Jacklevyn Manuputty – Indonesia
Friar Ivo Markovic – Bosnia & Herzegovina
Rev. Canon Andrew White – Iraq
Pastor James Movel Wuye – Nigeria

 

Joyce Dubensky,
CEO, Tanenbaum

Las Vegas—Are Thoughts & Prayers Enough?

Photo Credit: Chris Carlson | AP Photo

Friends,

Yesterday, we awoke to our nation’s deadliest mass shooting in recent history. Again, our elected representatives—and scores of everyday Americans—joined the nation in grief, sharing their “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and their families. These words of comfort come from a sense of solidarity, shock, and horror. For many, they also often come from faith. It is therefore incumbent upon us to ask ourselves whether our heartfelt expressions are all that are required of us.

Our nation’s “thoughts and prayers” have been with too many victims, friends, and loved ones from Sandy Hook, Orlando, San Bernardino and now Las Vegas. It is sad but true that we remember and pray for the nearly 33,000 Americans killed each year by gun violence. Sending thoughts and prayers is an act of solidarity. But without transformative change in our willingness to prevent these national tragedies, we will continue to witness unacceptable levels of violence and death.

Just as our great faiths and traditions urge us to pray for victims and survivors, they also urge us to act.

So, what is one simple and practical step that each of us can take to make our response to THIS tragedy different from ones before? Those of us who believe can review what our sacred texts ask of us—and decide if words alone are enough.

After tragedies we must come together and mourn. We must help those victimized to heal. And we must work to create the change that stops this from happening. Otherwise, we risk becoming part of the problem.

See what some of the world’s great traditions have to say…

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

BAHÁ’í
Let deeds, not words, be your adorning. Bahá u’lláh, Hidden Words Persian 5

BUDDHISM
Whoever, by a good deed, covers the evil done, such a one illumines this world like the moon freed from clouds. Dhammapada 173

CHRISTIANITY
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-21

HINDUISM
The wise see knowledge and action as one; they see truly. Bhagavad Gita 5.4, 5

ISLAM
Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; if he cannot, then with his tongue; and if he cannot, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.” Narrated in Shaih Muslim.

JUDAISM
I call heaven and earth to witness: whether Jew or Gentile, whether man or woman, whether servant or freeman, they are all equal in this: that the Holy Spirit rests upon them in accordance with their deeds! Midrash, Seder Eliyahu Rabbah 10

SIKHISM
By their deeds and their actions, they shall be judged. God Himself is True, and True is His Court. Guru Granth Sahib (34)

NATIVE AMERICAN
It is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, live peace and live in peace. Shenandoah

ZOROASTRIANISM
A thousand people cannot convince one by words to the extent that one person can convince a thousand by action. Denkard 6.31