Our Approach to Desperate Times: Step One, Nurture Human Wellbeing

We each have a responsibility to hope for the best and to prepare for the worst.

At Tri-Faith we’re building a future where we each find meaningful relationships with people from all backgrounds in our communities, bringing congregational partners and community members together to show that people of different traditions can build trust, learn together, and meet shared goals.

Together, we must be a force for good in a time that may feel desperate.

We’re In This Together
Maybe you’re feeling like I’m feeling today. Not only do I worry about the health of people in my community during this public health crisis, but I also fear the social implications of COVID19 – especially for marginalized communities. Asian-Americans are feeling the brunt of hate crimes in retaliation for the novel coronavirus. Antisemitic conspiracy theories are being peddled in hyper-nationalist circles, attempting to inspire hate crimes against synagogues.

What History Shows Us
With sadness, we know these are not new responses. Desperate people do desperate things.

History is dotted with desperate people committing desperate acts. Most human-made atrocities are carried out by those who either have genuine struggles or perceive themselves to be marginalized and endangered. The quality of life for the average person – physical, financial, or social – is often quite low when we go to war or genocides take hold.

In many communities, the Jewish people endured blame for the Black Death in the Middle Ages. This likely emerged because the Jewish community’s hygiene practices kept them healthier, opening the door to conspiracy theories.

In 1858, a mob burned down a quarantine hospital on Staten Island, in fears that Irish immigrants were carrying yellow fever.

Immigrants at Ellis Island in the early 20th century were subjected to racist, bigoted, and antisemitic harassment in the wake of scares about trachoma.

Rampant illness is not only a health problem, but also an economic one. Nearly every minority group has been blamed for economic collapse at some point in human history. Xenophobia and hate will rise as the economy and healthcare industry fall.

What We Can Do, Individually & Together
There are concrete, proactive steps we can take to prevent and reduce these travesties.

Pandemics often inspire hateful retaliations. But we must not lose hope. We have a responsibility to be proactive with what we can control. If we recognize the problems, feel the fears, and recognize the struggles of people of all backgrounds, we can reduce hate and bigotry.

What can you and I do in this time of desperation and crisis?

First, we can and must promote wellbeing for all people.

At Tri-Faith Initiative, we approach improving human wellbeing by:

  • Co-creating produce for food banks, serving people struggling financially (such as through our Tri-Faith Garden).
  • Creating educational opportunities that allow people to learn about the diversity of humanity and grow both spiritually and socially.
  • Connecting to each other across our differences – reducing isolation and extending beyond those served, creating an expansive culture of social support.
  • Promoting human rights of all people, with particular attention to the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18:
    • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
  • Providing opportunities to experience diverse religious expressions, whether from one’s own perspective or from someone else’s.
  • Ensuring that all people feel invited, welcomed, and respected.
  • And, especially while medical experts call for physically distancing, we are innovating to make all of these actions as accessible and communal as possible.

Our mission at Tri-Faith is to create inclusive environments to build relationships and understanding. In our Tri-Faith community, each of us has a responsibility to uphold these ideals –not only because they are the right thing to do, but because they prevent bigotry and hate from rising in the first place. They reduce the desperation of desperate times.

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