Standing Together in Solidarity as “Us”

By Associated Ministries Executive Director, Mike Yoder

The news of yet another mass shooting in an American house of worship caused a particular sense of horror and anger in many of us. The senseless killing of 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue while they were gathered for worship is a violation of the most basic form of human decency. How tragic that even our houses of worship are becoming places in which some feel the need to look over their shoulder for potential danger.

In the midst of grieving over this senseless shooting, I find myself increasingly troubled by the vitriolic dialogue that’s being shared on a national level; I’m convinced such rhetoric foments violence and a hatred of “The Other.”

NBC News analyst and UPenn Professor Howard Fineman shared in the NY Times: “What does the bloodshed in the Tree of Life mean? It is a sign that hatred of The Other is poisoning our public life. It’s always been a vivid strain in America, stimulated by the stress of immigrant waves, but one we have overcome time and again. Although we often honor it in the breach, our founding idea remains: that each person here is precious and born with unalienable rights. Now, political enemies in America deny each other’s humanity.”

What will it take for us as a nation to overcome the destructive idea of “otherness”? I believe that as people of faith we have a sacred responsibility to blaze the trail. Now more than ever, we of all people must not view ANY other person of ANY other faith as “them”; we must always talk about “us.”

People of faith have always been called to love their neighbors, even in the most difficult of circumstances; many have faithfully acted as agents of healing, restoration and peace-building throughout history. So in times like this we must recommit ourselves to stand shoulder-to-shoulder as people of faith and uphold our common commitment to love our neighbors as ourselves; a frightened and demoralized nation desperately needs to find hope and inspiration by seeing this ideal boldly lived out in each of our lives.

So as we pray for the latest victims of violence, my prayer is that we do not become numb to tragedy, that we will all press forward with even more commitment to create a community – and a nation – that is humane, compassionate and just. And may it begin with me.

People of faith and goodwill throughout Pierce County are encouraged to join together in a show of solidarity against hatred in response to the tragic occurrence at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. On Wednesday, Oct. 31, Shiloh Baptist Church (1211 S I St, Tacoma, Washington 98405) will be the site of “Standing Together: A Service of Solidarity with Pittsburgh,” a gathering to show support for our Jewish brothers and sisters and stand in unity as people of faith. The service will begin at 6:00 pm, led by Pastor Gregory Christopher of Shiloh Baptist Church with participants from throughout the community.

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