Who among us was not appalled by what occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia?
Incidents of hatred and bigotry can never be tolerated – especially when they turn violent.
Groups like the KKK and the Nazi parties as well as other groups that advocate hatred and espouse violence can never be permitted to thrive in this country.
As Schenectady Clergy Against Hate, we call on everyone to denounce such organizations and the beliefs that are so repugnant to many of us.
Our pained history reaffirms that conviction. Never again will the reign of terror inflicted by Nazi beliefs be accepted by us.
Never again will violence by hooded thugs which is an expression of racial prejudices be tolerated by us.
Never again will the Confederate flag, the symbol of slavery and human degradation be a source of pride. We must pledge to end a culture of discrimination and bigotry wherever it exists.
We also encourage the residents of this area to show solidarity to the residents of Charlottesville. We applaud the leadership of its Mayor, Michael Signer.
As we look to what is ahead, our response must be multifaceted.
It is imperative that we denounce those who use hatred as a weapon and hold those responsible for the loss of life and injuries caused by this violence.
But that is not enough.
We should be the change we seek.
Let us pause in personal reflection. The KKK, the American Nazi party and other White Supremacy groups are not the only ones who harbor hatred.
Many around us know that such bigotry is real in our daily lives.
Each one of us should acknowledge this and aspire to embody the change we want to see in our country.
Point out and stand up to friends, family and neighbors whose words and deeds limit the dignity of others. Admit that we all harbor toward prejudices and harbor toward resentments to another.
Identify where those animosities are—religion, color of skin, sexual orientation, country of origin, economic status, etc. Then seek to rid ourselves of it through listening, patience, and education.
When you speak, choose your words carefully.
Think how the words will be perceived. If by word or by action, we inadvertently or overtly hurt someone—acknowledge it and seek amends.
And remember that what occurred in Charlottesville was a reflection of learned behavior.
People were taught to hate; therefore, people can be taught to respect and be accepting of another.
Let us be the embodiment of the change in attitude we want for our country. Be the one who sees the face of God in the other.
Once we do it, we can demand it from others.
This guest column was signed by the following members of the local religious community: Rabbi Matt Cutler; Rev. Horace Sanders Jr,; Imam Genghis Khan; Rev. Jonathan Vanderbeck; Father Bob Longobucco; Paul Uppal of the Sikh Community; Rev. Dustin Wright; Rev. Bill Levering; Rev. Phil Grigsby; Rev. James MacDonald; Jamshaid Anwer Minhas; Rev. Viki Brooks; Rabbi Ted Lichtendfield; Rev. Sara Baron; Rev. Kathleen Gorman-Coombs; Rev. Peter Carman; Gurpreet Singh; Rev. Robert Long; Rev. Jason Fulkerson; Rev. Lynn Carman Bodden; Grupert Singh and Rev. Lynn Gardner.