“This is a Moment of Mourning, Understanding, Reflection, Learning and Unlearning” – Dishani Jayaweera, Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action
We can barely imagine what it must feel like to be in Sri Lanka today, as it reels from devastating attacks that targeted Christians on Easter Sunday and killed more than 300 people. Or what it is like in Paris when you can’t celebrate Easter at the nearly 900-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral. Or how the parishes of three burned Black churches in Louisiana are persevering and coming together to rebuild.
We can barely imagine. And like many, I lack the words. But Tanenbaum’s Peacemaker, Dishani Jayaweera, doesn’t have to imagine. After a lifetime working for peace, with diverse religious leaders and communities across Sri Lanka, she said it all… “We are in Deep Pain.”
But religious peacebuilders, like Dishani, don’t waiver. And her large and dedicated network of local interfaith peacebuilders are working hard to prevent further violence. Speaking from her core Buddhist beliefs, Dishani shares how she, as a Sri Lankan peace activist, is processing the shattering violence, fears and finding her commitment to stay the course. As she wrote to her friends late last night, “To face the reality we need BIG hearts… Sharp brains … billions of hands….Let’s come together…”
With a heavy heart,
P.S. Help support Dishani and our other Peacemakers in Action Network.
It’s intolerable that I am writing to you, yet again, in mourning for lives lost at the hands of a mass shooter, this time in a Parkland, Florida high school. Seventeen students and educators taken too soon, again leaving families torn apart. Others hospitalized and a community left in shambles. Of course, I am sad. But I am also among those who are furious. How many times do we have to bear witness to a preventable massacre?
There is a lot of talk now about seeing the signs. Let’s face it. The signs were there. But the one I am not hearing enough about right now is hate speech and those who promote it—a mention or two in passing, and then back to other signs.
Today we learned that the shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, may have been associated with the white supremacy group Republic of Florida. He flagrantly published insults against Muslims, Black individuals, and law enforcement on social media. And then he killed. It is clear that hate and hate speech correlate to hate crimes. A disturbed young man, inflamed by bigotry. What do we expect?
We must not underestimate the danger of hate. It lays the foundation for mass killings and atrocities. And yesterday’s murderous rampage was no less than that—an atrocity. A criminal act that needs to be named: White Supremacist Terrorism.
Hate is more than graffiti on a wall or words on a social media post. It’s a sign. One of the gravest. And we need to talk about it.
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. And one week from today, people across all faiths, in over 100 countries, will pause to honor his life. That is one of his many extraordinary legacies.
King’s vision, strategic wisdom, and resilience continue to inspire us.
That’s why, for this month’s installment of our Combating Extremism campaign, we highlight King’s use of nonviolence to exact political change. Motivated by his deeply held beliefs, King’s life and actions remind us that religion can be a rich motivator for good. But it is up to us to make it so.
Read on to learn more about the practical ways King manifested his philosophy of nonviolence—a weapon of choice we can still use today:
- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: Faith and Nonviolent Protest: A fact sheet sharing the many ways King put his nonviolence values into action, the obstacles he encountered and his inspiring resolve.
- Questions for Consideration: A question sheet to use alongside “Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: Faith and Nonviolent Protest” that can help guide reflection, discussion and study.
Joyce S. Dubensky
P.S. When you support Tanenbaum, you help us in the battle for a world where people across beliefs live side by side, free from extremism, persecution and hate.
After the Las Vegas massacre a mere 37 days ago, I, among many others, said that thoughts and prayers from the public and politicians alike—no matter how genuine and supportive—are not enough. Sadly, yesterday, the inadequacy of words alone proved to be all-too-true, as Sutherland Springs, Texas experienced the worst church shooting in this country’s history. At least 26 men, women, children and one unborn were murdered and 20 others injured during their sacred Sunday service at the community’s First Baptist Church.
What to do now is clear, but by no means easy.
- We must stop attacking each other, and start attacking the hard issues that affect us all.
- We must stop labeling each other.
- We must stop only assigning the “terrorism” label to events involving Muslims—when in fact, terrorism and deranged criminals both intentionally carry out horrific slaughters. The harm is one and the same.
And perhaps most of all, we must stop thinking that the threat from abroad is greater than the threat from within.
Words alone are failing us. We must demand that our leaders take action, rooted in facts—like the fact that a history of domestic violence, not race or religion, is a common thread among mass murderers, including yesterday’s shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley. If we don’t, I fear that I’ll be writing you again in another 37 day’s time.
This is the time to work together as allies. Because above and beyond all other identities, there is one we all share—that we are human.
Joyce S. Dubensky
At Saturday’s white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, counter-protestors put their lives at risk and stood up to hate. After they chanted, “…No KKK! No fascist USA,” a white supremacist responded, “Too late f — —kers.” My response?
Well sir, I—and the millions like me who stand for respect and inclusion—are here to tell you that you are gravely mistaken. When it comes to fighting for what is right:
It is NEVER too late.
In fact, I’ll go one step further. I see yesterday as a beginning. No longer can anyone deny that U.S. terrorism is a disease that infects people across race and religion. Plowing a car into an innocent group of people for political ends is terrorism. It is the same heinous act everywhere, whether in Charlottesville by a white man known as a Nazi sympathizer or in London by an ISIS supporter born in the country he attacked.
Charlottesville was terrorism. Plain and simple. And everyone, including our national leaders, must acknowledge and treat it as such.
Together, let’s show those who say it’s too late—that actually—we’re just getting started.
Joyce S. Dubensky
P.S. People from many backgrounds are responsible for terrorism. Look here to better understand it.
P.P.S. White Supremacy is a phenomenon that exists among our fellow citizens. Understand its complexity and how it perpetuates hate here.
Did you know that between 2006-2011, 82-97% of terrorism victims worldwide were Muslim?
It’s the truth. So, why have most of us never heard this type of information? To help remedy this situation, please check out this month’s Combating Extremism materials and take a dive into facts about terrorism that go beyond the headlines.
- Talking Terrorism…Did You Know?: A resource with the latest facts about global terrorism.
- Questions for Reflection: A resource to use alongside the fact sheet for educators, parents, any of us.
Read, share, and discuss… Because reforming this world requires informing this world.
Joyce S. Dubensky
P.S. We want to hear from you! Let us know what in the fact sheet worries, inspires, or surprises you. And use this fact sheet to start a conversation with friends about what you’ve learned!
P.P.S. Please encourage friends, neighbors, educators and community leaders to sign up to receive our free Combating Extremism materials.
Once again, on a Monday morning, we awoke to news that made us stop in our tracks— terrorism and the slaughter of a 17-year-old girl on Father’s Day because she was Muslim. Again, we mourn and extend our condolences to the families, friends and communities who are suffering these losses most directly.
Below are my 5 Reflections on London and Virginia:
- I am heartsick. But I also realize that the volume of the horrors has a numbing effect on too many of us.
- As numbness to the deaths sets in, fear is escalating at the randomness with which terrorism and hate crimes are becoming a daily norm.
- Terrorism is not limited to any one group or ethnicity. Just look at the perpetrators of these two crimes and you’ll see what I mean.
- Terrorism targets all of us— including Muslims.
- And the question… How is it that London and Virginia grab at our heartstrings— but we barely notice atrocities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Somalia, India, etc.?
With great sorrow,
Joyce S. Dubensky
Yesterday morning’s deadly truck bombing in Kabul was a horrific tragedy. At Tanenbaum, it’s also personal.
The explosion, which killed more than 80 people and wounded hundreds more, shook Kabul as our Peacemaker Jamila Afghani was on her way to work. When we reached her later in the day, Jamila was at home with her family and all were safe. Safe, but very scared. They live close enough to the bomb blast that all her windows were smashed, and the walls cracked open.
At Tanenbaum, we work with Peacemakers from around the world like Jamila, who pursue peace in the places where violence and conflict are the norm. Jamila focuses on improving the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan, despite the violence and constant threats. She is a woman of faith and fearless vision. But on a day like today, her only words were that the bombing was “extremely terrifying” and that it struck “fear in my heart.”
As we continue to mourn the attacks in Manchester, Cairo, and Portland, we must remember those killed and injured in Kabul.
Terrorism has no bounds. It strikes with ferocity. By remembering all the victims, survivors and their families whether in Manchester or Kabul, we align with those who oppose hatred and terror. By acknowledging the random impact of terror on people from all backgrounds, nationalities and religions, we lay claim to our humanity.
Today, we are reminded that greater security and protection for civilians in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan is critically needed. As the international community takes action to stop the terror, let it remember the people of Kabul and the long Afghan war. Let us devote more resources to peacebuilding and diplomacy—and to advancing the work of religious Peacemakers like Jamila.
To read more about Tanenbaum Peacemaker Jamila Afghani, please visit her profile page here.
This week, as Tanenbaum celebrated 25 years of combating religious hate, I felt compelled to begin our anniversary Gala with a moment of silence for the victims, their families and the people of Manchester. It is days later and the assault on Coptic Christians in Egypt has continued; this time a bus filled with men, women and children, traveling to a monastery in Minya province, were ambushed by gunmen in uniform.
The attacks in Manchester and Egypt were both claimed by ISIS – and Egypt has responded to this latest terror attack with airstrikes on training camps in Libya. Egypt’s Coptic community has suffered ongoing violence and terrorism since 2011, including the Palm Sunday church bombing in April.
Today, we stand with the Coptic Community in Egypt, with Christians worldwide, and with our global community, from all traditions and none.
We have a responsibility to bear witness and to do everything we can to stop hatred that fuels violence and terrorism. At times we may feel powerless, yet we have real impact as we practice respect and speak up for what is right in our own communities. This is a time to let our hearts be informed by real facts. Because if we don’t, we risk losing our own humanity to profound sadness and fear.
Joyce S. Dubensky,
P.S. There are things you can do today. Learn more about the ancient Coptic Community in Egypt; Check out what is happening in the Middle East with Christian persecution; and support those working with refugees and to fight for justice.