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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 

Combat Extremism – Use December Resources from Tanenbaum

In the wake of continued violent extremism and escalating intolerance fueled by fear and misinformation, Tanenbaum remembers what unites us in striving for a just society. Shared visions of generosity, gratitude, friendship, and forgiveness tie us together in our search for peace and justice.

Learning more about one another allows us to stand together in this search. This month, Tanenbaum shares another practical resource for use in daily life or in a classroom.

  • Calls and Prayers for Peace and Justice: Read calls and prayers for peace and justice from many of the world’s great religions and philosophical traditions. They echo common threads that connect us, regardless of our different beliefs or lack of belief.
  • QUESTIONS for Students and Educators: A question sheet that may be used by educators and creative parents alike alongside Calls and Prayers for Peace and Justice, which explores common themes, shared ethics and similar visions of peace that emerge across different faith and philosophical traditions.
Read, download, and share! Challenge students and children to ask questions, research the answers, and take action by starting a discussion within your community or family about shared beliefs for peace. Take this to your house of worship and learn more about your neighbors.
Together, let’s work to prevent violent extremism. Peace begins with us.

P.S. Your signature makes a difference! Sign and share our Peacemaker’s Statement Against Extremism.

 

Click here to support our work against extremism and our 2016 intervention in Syria.

From Alaska to the Bahamas, Tanenbaum’s Education Programming Resonates

In mid-February and early March, I had the pleasure of presenting at two very specialized education conferences.

The first was the Beyond School Hours conference in Burlingame, CA. This conference is designed for out-of-school time educators, and I presented on our K-6 World Olympics curriculum, which has been very successful in after-school settings. The participants in those sessions came from as far as Alaska to the Bahamas and it seemed the only complaint they had was that I didn’t have enough copies of the curricula to sell!

A specific idea that resonated with the group was normalizing difference in contrast to celebrating similarities. While both are important, a greater emphasis seems to be put on the latter in diversity work. In doing a few activities from the curriculum, participants were able to experience subtle ways in which difference can be normalized in everyday lessons.

The second conference, the National Association of Independent Schools conference, was in my hometown of Seattle. I facilitated a panel titled Religion in Independent Schools: Innovations in Multicultural Education. The panel members were three independent school practitioners who have used Tanenbaum’s work successfully, and they shared their perspectives with over 100 attendees.
 
It was gratifying to see how our creative panelists have taken our pedagogy and lessons, and adapted them to fit their classrooms’ needs. A major take-away from this experience was the power of co-presenting at conferences. Also, the standing-room only crowd goes to show that issues around religious identity in schools are not limited to the topic of separation of church and state in public schools. One of the Education program’s initiatives is to work more deeply with independent school educators. Seems like we’re off to a great start!
– Anshu Wahi, Senior Program Associate