I have lived in Muscatine longer than I have lived anywhere else in my life. As a New Jersey transplant, I am proud to call Muscatine my home. This community is filled with good and generous people. I have witnessed how the citizens of our community look out for one another and help each other and seek to lift each other up. It’s a beautiful thing.
So, it was particularly troubling to read last week that flyers had been disseminated in our community and surrounding communities that were promoting hate and intolerance. It’s not that I believe that discrimination and the systems that support it have been eradicated. We, as a community, still have work to do to make sure everyone feels welcome, to make sure everyone feels safe, to make sure everyone feels like they belong. A place to start is to listen to our neighbors who are persons of color, members of the LGBTIA+ community, and women. We most likely will hear stories of how they do not feel welcome, or do not feel safe, or do not feel like they belong, and when someone sees fit to distribute the kind of flyers that made the news last week we can understand why.
It takes work and understanding to create a community where everyone is welcome, and I am so grateful to live in a place that values diversity and promotes tolerance. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Loving is central in all religions. In my tradition, love is so central that we are commanded to love one another, and that love does not draw a line at a person’s skin color, gender, socio-economic class, or sexual orientation. We are commanded to love, period.
So my friends and neighbors in Muscatine, shall we stick with love?