Celebration of Abraham (COA), a Yolo County interfaith organization for over 17 years, is saddened and outraged at the killing of George Floyd and expresses our deepest condolences to his family. We are anguished at the continuous violence black Americans have suffered throughout the history of our county—slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration and the senseless killings at the hands of white vigilantes and law enforcement.
We understand that many in the law enforcement community, including the Davis Police Chief, are horrified and speaking out against the systemic racism and militarism in policing.
Celebration of Abraham encourages all to reflect and to take action so such acts of abuse of power are no longer the norm. "Othering," as discussed during one of COA's community conversations, is a divisive force that is among the roots of the problem. As humans, we are programmed to organize information we take from the world into categories. For much of recorded history, humans have used categorical differences to justify fear or power relations between groups. Our religions have within them the capacity to unite us, though there are those who use these traditions to divide us. Our Abrahamic faith traditions tell us to value the other.
Judaism teaches that to destroy one life is equivalent to annihilating the world while saving one life redeems the entire human race. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Christianity teaches that whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Islam also teaches that whoever kills an innocent soul- it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. An individual must love for his brother what he loves for himself.
We are all human beings with common hopes and dreams. We owe it to those who have been identified as different and are the most vulnerable, particularly to Black Americans who have disproportionately suffered from divisiveness created by othering, to fight this destructive behavior. Overcoming the differences, which are little more than social constructs is hard, but now the well-being of our country depends on such efforts. COA community conversations have looked for positive solutions from our faith traditions. These ranged from approaching our differences with curiosity, expressing the shared experiences of coming from a different heritage, to challenging ourselves to find our common human dignity.
Now is the time to take our intentions and positive words beyond conversation and into action. We exhort all who read this to commit to:
- Making the countering of racism central: in our homes, schools, workplaces, law enforcement and places of worship
- Promoting efforts to make our communities inclusive: welcoming the stranger, participating in neighborhood forums positively without divisive comments, and celebrating our differences
- Advocating for reform in all communities such that no one has to fear an encounter with law enforcement simply because of the way one looks
- Supporting political change that will address the structural problems that make police reform so challenging
COA applauds and supports peaceful protests. At the same time, COA is concerned about the divisive elements of violence that detract from the protests occurring throughout the country in reaction to George Floyd's murder and the need for law enforcement reform.
Religion and faith need not be considered worthless and out of step with modernity. Let us look instead to the commonalities in our separate faiths to bring us closer to one another. When we recognize what we share, rather than what superficially makes us different, then and only then can we hope to see the end to the injustice that is currently tearing us apart.
Members of Celebration of Abraham