In Wake of Latest Violence, a Call for Community, Discernment, Reflection and Faith

During this time of national pain and mourning, it is comforting to find solace in community. By coming together through a common bond, we can draw on our collective strength, perspective and wisdom.

The events of the past week - and indeed months - have shaken our national consciousness. The tragic events in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas are but the latest in what has become a numbing litany of violent acts. For some, this violence has served to increase the divisiveness that has become all too prevalent in our society.

But we must not succumb to such reactionary and capricious ways. These trying times call upon us, as members of a Jesuit institution, to act true to our founding principles and values. It is important that we carefully discern how we can heal, plan and act in the best interest of all members of society. What more can we do as a community to help others cope and understand? How can we strengthen mind, body and soul of ourselves and others? How can we better educate inside and outside the classroom issues related to social justice, respect for the sanctity of life, and empathy for all members of society, each with their own unique circumstances and challenges?

As Pope Francis writes: "...violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken."

I invite you to join with me for a solidarity dialogue that will take place on Monday, July 18 at noon in the James Commons. This dialogue will be co-facilitated by Peter Wilner and Lekia Hill, staff members of Interfaith Works, and will provide an opportunity for students on our campus this summer to have a safe place to freely talk about the recent violent acts that have occurred -- both throughout our country and in our own community.

While we want to provide this forum for our students, we feel it is important that as many faculty, administrators and staff members as possible join us to demonstrate our understanding and solidarity as a community committed to social justice.

It is during these moments that we look to our leaders to help make sense of the senseless and give hope when all seems hopeless. Yesterday in Dallas, President Obama delivered a talk that was often sobering, yet challenged us to look within ourselves as we determine a way of proceeding: "Can we find the character, as Americans, to open our hearts to each other? Can we see in each other a common humanity and a shared dignity, and recognize how our different experiences have shaped us? ...With an open heart, we can abandon the overheated rhetoric and the oversimplification that reduces whole categories of our fellow Americans not just to opponents, but to enemies."

The overarching issues are not simple, nor the answers clear. It will require much work, much patience, and much understanding. I hope that you will join me in drawing on community, prayer and faith to help us through these difficult times, and begin to create a future of respect, inclusiveness and hope.


Linda M. LeMura, Ph.D.