We were all horrified by the news of recent shootings in Aurora Colorado and Brookfield, Wisconsin. The proximity of the two attacks is unsettling to say the least.
These tragedies will undoubtedly be the subject of much discussion in the upcoming presidential election. I hope that the candidates will dedicate serious discussion and focus on the treatment of mental illness, the pervasiveness of violence in our culture, the dangerous fear of foreigners or those who seem different.
I pray that these events will spark serious dialogue on gun control in general and assault weaponry in particular.
For many of us these tragic events seem distant and removed from our daily lives. What can we do here in Plainview, New York, so far away from these tragic events?
On a global level we can elect and support leadership who will take steps to address the issues that led up to these tragic events. On a local level we can support pluralism and diversity in our own communality. Nassau County's demographics are shifting at a rapid pace. The evolving diversity of our community is both a blessing and a challenge.
Emerging populations that are visibly different are often the subject of fear. The knee-jerk reaction is to be circumspect about the "other." All too often fear of the unknown is the basis of our bias.
How do you support pluralism and diversity? Share yourself and your culture with others, in doing so you will be penetrating the barriers that are created by fear of the unknown. The informal education that occurs as people get to know each other is the best tool that we have to fight bigotry and hatred.
Bigotry is the direct result of ignorance and mutual understanding fosters peace in this world.
May we bring to fruition the words of the Psalmist: "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" (PSALM 133).