Like so many of you, we at Religions for Peace USA are in the process of seeking to absorb and understand what the events of the 2016 Presidential election tell us about our efforts as people committed to peace-building, equality and human dignity.
We begin with this fact: this election reminds us just how much we are able to touch each other with our words, actions and decisions. This election reminds us just how much we can hurt each other with them. This election reminds us that the passion to win can become a form of trying to transfer our own anxieties and hurts onto others, particularly the less powerful and more vulnerable. This election reminds us that we have the power to divide people—friends, families, religious communities—against each other, when the relationships and values we share tell us to reach out to one another. And today many people across the world are feeling the gnawing fear that in the passion to win, many vulnerable people, families, children and communities could be a profound risk.
To lose an election is one pain. But to be used as campaign target and treated as the enemy by one’s own neighbors, fellow citizens and human beings is another dimension of pain altogether. As religious people, we commit ourselves afresh to continue to resist and challenge such treatment of human beings.
This election has, of course, very possibly changed many things, even though no one knows for sure where all the changes will lead. But many people are feeling a profound and wrenching sense of loss of more than election. They—we—are in grief that words and actions were expressed in this election campaign that we intensely hoped would never be tolerated publicly—or in some cases never tolerated publicly again. They had hoped that we Americans had grown in our love and self-restraint and compassion.
This election has deeply challenged and dismayed that hope.
These concerns obviously transcend political parties. Many people today are deeply worried not because one particular party won or lost, but that something deep in our humanity has been wounded and scarred. And the healing may be hard to find. But we trust it will—and will bring a new sense of shared community committed to the common good.
We at Religions for Peace USA know that the work for greater peace has always been challenging, that the path toward greater justice is often hard and that the climb to equality and fairness for all is often long and filled with setbacks. But we also know that the very core of human existence, religiously considered, is to be a faithful and resilient part of the human community, despite all the suffering, obstacles, conflicts, mistakes and risks that we human can bring on ourselves and one another.
We at Religions for Peace USA know that the way forward two days ago is still the way forward today—forging relationships across divides, insisting that justice and equality are indeed possible, even if the challenges are great, and standing with the people most at risk of being hurt by the human society of which we are all a part.
If you are hurting today after the election, we at Religions for Peace USA are honored to stand with you as your fellow human beings. In particular, if you or your community or your humanity have been insulted, slandered, threatened or maligned during this election or in the days or years before, we are honored and we recommit to stand together with you in your pain. We will stand with you today and tomorrow, no matter what comes. You are not alone.