I am writing to you on this the last day of August. Labor Day is about all that stands between the end of summer and a new academic year. Summer is good for us for the open spaces it provides. But I love the fall and how it brings us up to full speed and re-condenses our lives reminding each of us of the weight of our work and study.
In these most recent days, those longed for spaces took an early disappearance as the realities of hatred and violence yet again broke out, this time in Charlottesville. We are witnessing a hatred that is public, brazen…and organized. It is a hatred that borrows from oppressive voices and ideologies of the past that led to the annihilation of more than 6 million Jews and now glorifies a history of slavery. It is a hatred that feels a new permission to express itself. The permission may be experienced as new, but the hatred is not new. Top administrative officials have implied permission by convoluted messages and not definitively speaking a bold word that exposes the lies on which such hatred feeds. This implied permission feeds the exclusionary thinking that leads to the creation of documents like the recent Nashville Statement where some religious leaders seek to delegitimize the LGBTQIA community.
Most recently, our eyes and hearts have been drawn toward Houston, its surrounding communities, and the Gulf region including Louisiana. Those longed for spaces of summer were inundated by wind and water, horribly disrupted lives, and devastating loss.
In moments like these, I invite us to remember that there are members of our Iliff family, who are directly engaged with critical truth telling. These alumni/ae, students, faculty, staff, trustees are serving as pastors, teachers, counselors, and community agents for peace and justice, and stand in resistance to the lies that led to this hatred. And, still others of our Iliff family in the Gulf region, most likely suffering their own personal loss, stand in their many different roles to offer a reconstructing hope for those devastated by natural disaster. Today, we remember everyone who lives in harm’s way.
Certainly statements from Iliff about critical moments in history are of importance. And the can sometimes lead to action or become a resource for deep reflection. We are in the process of web resources for such challenging times. Our initial faculty resource is available here. I invite you to share it with others. We also see it as a way for us to introduce others to Iliff.
In times of crisis around structural injustice, I find myself reflecting on our work at Iliff. A short litany has come to me and I repeat it to myself. As a closing, I share it with you.
Before Ferguson, Orlando, Charlottesville [add others], we knew our work.
During Ferguson, Orlando, Charlottesville [add others], we knew our work.
After Ferguson, Orlando, Charlottesville [add others], we knew our work.
We are in the work, together.