Posted on October 13, 2021
As a Jewish community the importance of a people’s connection to their land is at the center of our Torah, our sacred text, and so I am grateful to Andre for beginning today’s vigil with a land acknowledgement, recognizing his people’s connection to the land on which we are currently gathered.
Thank you to all of you who have chosen to gather with us today to honor Indigenous Peoples Day, to stand up to hate and to spread love. I wish that we did not have to gather in this way. I wish that this day were already being honored in the way that it should be. I wish that the statements we are making today were unnecessary.
From the very beginning this country has been divided into “them” and “us.” Originally it was the settlers and the indigenous peoples, but over time we were further divided and subdivided, according to religion, race, nationality, gender, and sexuality among others. Those who divide us sow the seeds of discord and opposition, of fear and suspicion, of enmity and hate. We cannot allow them to dominate the discourse furthering their hateful agendas, we cannot allow them a foothold in MetroWest, we cannot allow them to divide us.
In the last few years, we have unfortunately seen the way in which hate-filled words very quickly lead to hate-filled actions. Politicians and leaders spread fear and suspicion about those with whom they disagree, those who are different, those whom they feel they can easily target. And then they act surprised when people hearing their words respond with acts of racism, violence, and hate.
This must stop! We cannot wait for the next crime that calls us to action; we must act today, preemptively with a united voice.
The very first act of hate we see in the Bible is the murder of Abel by his brother Cain. Afterwards, God screams out to Cain: “the blood of your brother cries out to me from the ground.” Too much blood has been spilled on this land and it should cry out to all of us as a call to action, a call to respond, a call to say no more. The blood from indigenous peoples massacred on this land cries out to us; the blood of people such as Ramona Cooper and David Green, senselessly murdered because of the color of their skin cries out to us; the blood of too many who have been victims of racism, fear, prejudice, and hate cries out to us.
In the face of this act of hatred, the Bible poses through Cain a seemingly simple question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” For too long we have struggled to answer this question, for too long we have been silent. It isn’t difficult. The necessary answer has always been and will always be: “Yes, Yes I am, 100 times Yes!” We are responsible for one another, embracing our differences to recognize our shared humanity. We are defenders, who must stand up not just when I am attacked, but when any one of us is attacked. We are the keepers of our brothers and sisters, the keepers of our fellow humans, responsible to care for, nurture, and protect each other. When we answer this question with “yes” we are immensely powerful and together we can through acts of love, solidarity, and support drive out and extinguish the forces of hate.
Together, we are responsible for one another, together we are each other’s keepers, together we can stand up to hate and spread love.
It is my pleasure now to call up someone who does so much to spread love in our community; my friend, my colleague, my brother Reverend J. Anthony Lloyd of the Greater Framingham Community Church.