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Our Approach to Desperate Times: Step Three, Communities in Community

We are individuals and communities in community. 

To improve our relationships and understanding of one another, we need to seek the balance between recognizing our similarities and our differences.

We Are All in This Together
When we say “we are all in this together” we aren’t just grandstanding. We mean we are in this together with all of its depth and complexity. Being interdependent didn’t start with COVID-19 and it will not end with COVID-19. Our togetherness is not only based on our sameness.

Tri-Faith Initiative started by seeking “sameness.” Congregants from Temple Israel and Omaha’s Muslim community, then the Omaha Episcopal community, and eventually Countryside Community Church, all found shared humanity and deity foundational to those relationships. These congregations not only said “we are in this together” but live it by building and worshipping physically next to each other.

Like all successful relationships, our Tri-Faith community here in Omaha takes work and patience. Members of these congregations might share humanity and an Abrahamic faith, but many members don’t speak the same language or have the same customs. They go to different schools, have different socioeconomic statuses, and live in different neighborhoods.

In interactions with people who are different from you, you learn quickly that we are not all the same – even though we share much in common. Our differences are beautiful, valuable, and important alongside our similarities.

Communities in Community
People build communities based on both similarities and differences. We identify ourselves with a variety of communities: our city, state, country, race, gender, sexual orientation, religious community, and the other various groups we hold dear. In these communities, we work together, we argue, and we have fun. Sometimes people collaborate – sometimes people have conflict. Different communities find different successes and difficulties.

While we are all “in this together”, our circumstances are very different. During this period of physical distancing due to COVID-19, we recognize that those who work in essential services are putting themselves in harm’s way every day. Often these workers are underpaid and undervalued, even during a pandemic. Many of us are lucky to be paid working remotely, while others are not. Even before this pandemic, many of those who are elderly or immuno-suppressed lived in fear every day of contracting illness. People who have concerns with accessibility, though, have finally been heard in ways that they haven’t before as events and programs are now able to be accessed from our homes.

While hate touches all of our lives, the circumstances are different for the rise of hate against Jewish cemeteries, Sikh Temples, and Mosques. Pagans continue to be belittled for their religion and atheists still are seen as less moral. None of these issues are quite the same, and they deserve to be understood within their own contexts.

Different communities face different concerns.

Tri-Faith Initiative has a particular ability to bring people from different communities together by creating inclusive spaces for people to connect across lines of difference – especially religious difference. This focus on relationship-building in tandem with improving religious literacy and understanding creates a social structure that can last.

As we shared in our previous pieces, nurturing human wellbeing and dismantling stereotypes are important steps to reduce desperation. But to create lasting impact, Tri-Faith Initiative makes structural change, by helping communities find new ways to interact with one another.

By coming together, we can learn how to support each other.

Building Empathy that Lasts
We can improve the world one step at a time. By gathering together, we build empathy and relationships that last. Even with the necessity to physically distance ourselves during the pandemic, Tri-Faith Initiative makes gathering while apart a priority.

We provide a wide variety of programs to make sure that people from different backgrounds can continue to fill their minds and their hearts. Whether we come together in workplaces, classrooms, small groups, picnics, or auditoriums, gathering and learning together allows us to move beyond simple tolerance into acceptance and understanding. 

It is said that there are no more than six degrees of separation between people around the world. Our deep connection to one another is why it is so important to physically distance ourselves from one another during this pandemic. Yet, it’s also the reason each of us can make such a profound impact on the world.

Your actions are an important part of combating COVID19 and you are an important part of Tri-Faith Initiative.Your choices matter, and you can benefit the entire world with just a few small actions: You can call your neighbor, join a Tri-Faith Initiative program or group, or donate to a good cause in your community for the benefit of everyone.

Which of these will you choose today?

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