Bart Worden, the Executive Director of the American Ethical Union – the national organization coordinating the work of the nation’s Ethical Culture Societies (non-theistic communities dedicated to ethical action) – made the following statement yesterday in the wake of Friday’s shootings:
The tragedy of the killings in Newtown Connecticut on December 14th is unspeakable. What could be more chilling than the intentional killing of innocents? You are shocked and appalled, shaken to your core. Remember this feeling and do not let it go.
Think of your own children sitting in their classrooms, think of your neighbors’ kids waiting at the bus stop, think of the millions of children throughout the country who will be returning to school on Monday. Get inside their heads and their hearts.
Think about the world you want them to see – and think about how painfully far we are from that world at this moment.
If you are against violence and for peace this is your moment. This is your time to come forward, to step up, to sound out and make yourself seen and heard. Do not be dissuaded or deterred, stand tall, stand proud. Shout loud and long. Don’t stop shouting. You will not be alone. You will not be alone if you act right now. You will not be alone if you go, right now, into the street to demand attention, to insist that you be heard. We are with you.
If you are against limiting access to firearms, if you are working to get legislation passed to make it easier to get guns and carry them–this could be your moment. This could be your wake-up call to alert you that you have been on the wrong path, that your efforts have led to tragedy, that it is time to turn it around. Your guns are not protecting you and they certainly are not protecting us. Let’s make it harder, not easier, to get access to lethal force. This is your chance to be a part of the solution. Back off. Stop pestering your elected officials, come join us in the streets–it’s not too late for you.
If you are a hunter or shoot guns for sport, this could be your moment, too. It’s all about priorities. Are your needs to have and use guns so great that the entire country has to mold itself to those needs? Are you willing, in the name of justice, to curtail your own access to firearms to promote the greater good for all? If so, come forward. Speak about your love of country and your desire to be a good citizen and how that desire leads you to agree that it is time to severely limit access to firearms. Come join us and we’ll march shoulder to shoulder.
In the end we all want the same things – opportunity to live a good life and freedom to do so. We have a lot more in common than you might think.
It is time. See you out there.
I was also struck by the following quote from Ethical Culture Founder Felix Adler’s Life and Destiny:
The fact that there is a spiritual power in us, that is to say, a power which testifies to the unity of our life with the life of others, which impels us to regard others as other selves — this fact comes home to us even more forcibly in sorrow than in joy. It is thrown into clearest relief on the background of pain.
I have found myself, in the past three days, powerfully confronted by the reality of our connection to other people, and by the responsibilities that connectedness engenders. Let us strive to never forget that others are indeed other selves.