Letters, April 10
Who are we, Ashland?
The eviction of the Peace Meal from Pioneer Hall both angers and saddens me. I am not surprised by the lack of compassion displayed by APRC in light of past decisions its leader has made. This new, literal, “kick in the gut” to hungry Ashland residents is a new low.
We citizens of Ashland must ask ourselves what kind of city we want to be. We should aid those who come for help, not attack them. A balance must be made between financial responsibility and compassionate action.
Considering the amount of money that APRC spends to support the golf course, and for numerous commissioned studies, this eviction is cruel and heartless. Peace Meal should have the opportunity to raise funds in order to stay in Pioneer Hall. Creating a safe space, even once a week, for homeless individuals is one step closer to helping them engage in society.
What happened at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, sent tidal waves of emotions to every continent, most countries, multitudes of cities and billions of homes. Emotions of shock, disbelief, anger, grief, fear, disgust and feelings of betrayal.
One emotion superseded all the rest: Courage. Consistent courage displayed by the New Zealand Prime Minister right down the line. Courage shown by grieving relatives, clergy, emergency response workers, journalists, police, citizens and school children.
The purposes of acts of terror are to destabilize and weaken communities and to insert fear into the lives of people. Terrorists aim to divide people, escalate distrust and confusion and destroy resolve.
The acts of a terrorist at Christchurch failed to destroy courage. Rather, courage burst on the scene to strengthen the will of New Zealanders to continue their egalitarian course toward democracy, justice, rule of law, freedoms of speech, and expressions of faith throughout their homeland.
What the world is seeing now in Christchurch are Friday gatherings where people of all races, ages and social classes are linking arms during the call for prayer. As one body, people are standing in silent determination so that others can pray without fear.
Bigotry is a fact of life. Religious bigotry shows up when people of different religions distrust and sometimes even hate each other. Generally speaking, bigotry is a result of being ignorant about customs that are different from ours. Sometimes bigotry is passed down to the next generation.
Many countries have laws against religious bigotry, including the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, articles 2, 18 and 19; and the United States 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.
There are acts of courage we might take to face up to bigotry. Experts suggest we keep aware of bigotry and make commitments to discourage it. We can model accepting attitudes and behaviors, share what we know about the harms caused by bigotry, listen and understand the feelings of those who are harmed and find ways to help the persecuted.
The Rev. Laura Lee Kent and the Justice and Peace Committee of the Medford Congregational United Church Of Christ