A New Year’s Message from IFLC Chairman Robert Bruttell

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The election cycle has revealed fissures in the common values which are key to a thriving community life together. Many of us, myself included, were distressed that so many people seemed to reject values that I hold dear.

I have spent the last few weeks thinking about that. I have reviewed what people are saying about their vote. And while plenty of people have clearly voiced intolerance for Muslims, Latinos, African Americans and others giving rise to a dangerous spike in hate speech and incidents, the majority who voted differently than I did, express their motivations differently also.

They say they are worried that global trade and global capital have taken the focus away from the needs of Americans; they worry about the effect of immigration on jobs and their ability to support their families; they fear that the talk about the needs of certain minorities means that the needs of other marginalized communities are being ignored. They say they did not intend to be intolerant.

Despite the fact that I believe that it is a fair observation to say their concerns were exploited, I think that when they say they had no intention to be intolerant we should take them seriously. If we do not seek to draw them in and understand their concerns we will end up reinforcing the fissure and making things worse.

On December 22nd, under the IFLC board leadership of David Kurzmann and me, we met with other interfaith and community leaders. Together we are working on a strategy to combat intolerance by offering our community an opportunity to come together and to express its desire for tolerance. We want to find ways to dispel unwarranted fear with faith and hope; find ways to stand with those who are the targets of hate or oppression; and remind our community that by building the Beloved Community we will all thrive.