We write to extend our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the recent mass murders in Buffalo, NY and in Uvalde, TX. We are horrified that so many innocent lives were lost in just moments. We surround those grieving with light and love.
We are called upon to do more than offer words. In the US, violent acts at schools, grocery stores, houses of worship, and other public spaces happen over and over again. It does not need to be this way.
The brutal mass murder at the grocery store in Buffalo was a blatantly racist act directed at African Americans. Racism is deeply rooted in our society. Racist violence is fueled when leaders and pundits espouse division and hate with their rhetoric and lies, and is amplified when misinformation spreads on social media platforms. When racism is combined with ready access to assault weapons the results are deadly. It is a recipe for tragedy again and again.
In Uvalde, we know the victims at the elementary school shooting were vulnerable children and teachers. While we do not yet know the motivation of the shooter, he identified with the ubiquitous culture of violence and had ready access to weapons.
Violence happens when we lose sight of our shared humanity. Violence recurs when the roots of discrimination, bigotry and hate are not challenged. Violence becomes a norm when we believe it is inevitable.
A common thread across our faith traditions is the belief that all are worthy and that we have a collective responsibility for one another. As we look around our community, we find hope in the increasing willingness to be honest about our local challenges.
There are no miracle ‘fixes’ to patterns of systemic racism and violence. In part we need to live into the rules and policies already in place. Where changes to policies are needed, we need to make the changes now. We need to change hearts and attitudes that privilege some over others.
These violent tragedies do not need to continue. They are not inevitable. As President Biden said in his address to the country this week, “When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”
As we extend our love to all in Buffalo and Uvalde and the many others impacted by violence, may we recommit to work together to create a community and country where all are valued, respected and safe.
Pastor Charles Bell
Molly Burgoyne Brian – Co-Clerk, Third Haven Friends Meeting
Rev. Sue Browning – Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton and Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River
Tom Corl – Co-Clerk, Third Haven Friends Meeting
Ann Davis – Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton (Member) – Talbot Interfaith Shelter Board (Member)
Fr. Kevin Cross – The Church of the Holy Trinity, Oxford
Reverend Wendell Gary – Retired Pastor Bethel AME Church, Easton
Heather Hall, Spiritual Director
The Rev Julie Hart – ELCA, retired Pastor
Constance Morris Hope
Rabbi Naomi Mara Hyman
Rabbi Peter Hyman – Temple B’Nai Israel
The Rt. Rev. Joel Marcus Johnson – Anglican Bishop of The Chesapeake, Ret.
Debra Kamsheh and Walid Kamsheh, M.D. – Islamic Center of Easton
Julie Lowe – Executive Director, Talbot Interfaith Shelter
Annabel Lesher – Grace Lutheran Church
Mary Hunt-Miller – Co-lead, Upper Shore Group of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Matthew R Peters –Executive Director of the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center
Rev. Tim Poly-Royal Oak Community UMC
Rose Potter – Community Leader
Rev. Leonard E. Palmer, Sr.
Rev. Nancy Sajda – Interfaith Minister and President of P.E.A.C.E.
Sarah Sayre – Co-lead, Upper Shore Group of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Norma Trax – Easton Church of Brethren
Rev. Dr. Wm. T. Wallace, Sr.
(The signatures below are those collected so far. As other faith leaders respond to the invitation to sign, their names will be added.)