Cultural Crossroads believes in a society of peace and mutual respect and in a shared future for all. We can change the world. This past week, Cultural Crossroads was honored to be involved in One Community: Together in Solidarity, an event which brought together a multiplicity of ethnic groups, faith communities, nonprofits and government agencies, to stand against hatred and violence. The catalyst for this event was a horrific hate crime in Olathe, Kansas, in February 2017, when a gunman attacked two Hindu men, thinking they were Muslim. The attack left one man dead and two men injured, including a brave bystander who stepped up to stop the violence and was also attacked and wounded. The evening included remarks by those affected by this and other hate crimes and a keynote address by Sikh-American activist Valarie Kaur, creator of the Revolutionary Love Project.
Every person who was involved in One Community: Together in Solidarity – whether as speaker or participant – made a difference in the world by their individual presence and demonstrated that “just one person” has the power to change the world.
As just one person, Valarie Kaur began a quest to turn hate into love; as just one person, Ian Grillot stepped forward to protect people he didn’t know and became a living symbol of love in action; as just one person, Mindy Corporon, who lost both father and son to hate violence, turned her grief into an energy of love with her Faith Always Wins Foundation. Every community action is the combined result of the actions of many people, but all of those people make the individual decision to join together, each as just one person. The power of One Person is what moves the world and changes the world.
We each need to stand up, all of us, as Just One Person, and make what difference we can in this world. We can do that by acting in peace, and against violence, as just one person. How can just one person make a difference? What if we are not called to action by horrific circumstances? What if we have no flair for public speaking? What if we have no organization skills to create a movement?
Here are some ideas, from a brochure How To Change the World…in a few not-so-easy steps that Cultural Crossroads prepared for the One Community gathering:
Every time you refrain from answering violence with violence, you act as a witness to others of the ability to create a peaceful world. If someone cuts you off in traffic, the initial desire is to accelerate and cut them off in turn…if someone cuts ahead of you in line at the grocery store, the initial desire is to loudly proclaim that heinous act to everyone else in the store…and, if someone posts a hateful message on Facebook, the immediate desire is to respond in kind and let them know, in no uncertain terms, exactly how wrong they are – and, as we all know, this is the most trying circumstance of all.
What to do? Respond with love and courtesy, not impatience or hatred. (An example: choose to be generous in traffic – realize that you have control of the situation when someone tries to cut into your lane, and you can use that control to either “fight back” and refuse to “give up your place” on the road – or you can choose to graciously “allow” them into the lane. The effect of this simple act is to immediately reduce both your stress level and the stress level of the other driver. You are no longer “fighting” and you have taken control of the situation…and the chances are much less that the other driver will continue to drive so aggressively that he will cause an accident somewhere down the road or arrive at work in such a state of anger that he picks a fight with the first person he meets. So, with one simple act, you have elevated your day and his day and the experiences of the people you will both encounter throughout the day.) Thinking of the other driver can also give you possible insights into the life of another – is that person’s life really so depressed that the only achievement he can imagine is to get in front of you on the freeway? If so, give gratitude for the blessings in your life and say a little prayer for that driver…he probably needs it.
Four not-so-easy steps:
FIRST, stay true to your vision of our society and stay true to the vision of peace – that must be our guide.
NEXT, protect the vulnerable! We have already seen too many instances of emboldened hatred since the election – people who blame their circumstances on others may now feel secure in their ability to act. It is incumbent upon us, as individuals, to stand with the vulnerable against that hatred.
STAND for the Rule of Law and respect the institutions that protect us, whether the institution is the presidency or the local police force but do not neglect to call out any deviation of those institutions from their restricted authority and hold the individuals in those positions of authority to account.
FINALLY, ACT in love and in peace – use every opportunity to turn a situation into an example of peace. Everyone, adults and children learn by example – be an Example of Peace.
Want a copy of the entire brochure? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and we’ll send you a copy.