…However far away it seems today
by Adria Scharf
RPEC Execuive Director
The election of Donald Trump revealed much.
It revealed the fragility of our democratic political system and the illusory nature of majority rule. It revealed the inadequacy of a corporate media (the “fourth estate”) more thirsty for vacuous news clips than critical inquiry. It revealed the frustration of swing-state voters tired of a corrupt political establishment that has failed to serve their needs or share prosperity.
And this election made evident, if it weren’t obvious already, the extent to which racism, xenophobia and misogyny continue to beat in this country’s heart.
It also surfaced and normalized a dangerous discourse of political violence; as when the president-elect said during the campaign that he wished he could assault protestors, predicted riots, and suggested that Hillary Clinton might get shot by one of his gun-rights supporters.
Like many of you who care about peace and justice and who seek a caring community, the Peace Center is preparing for this next period. We remain grounded in our commitment to transformative nonviolence. We remain grounded in our commitment to long-term change.
We will continue to seek a Richmond community and a country in which all individuals, regardless of race, zip code, gender, or cultural background can live full and abundant lives. We understand that requires listening to one another and coming together across traditional lines of division. We know that it will require defending the basic freedoms of vulnerable populations. We will continue to take stands for human rights, racial justice and peaceful alternatives to war and militarism. We invite your partnership in these efforts.
In the weeks immediately after the election the Peace Center rapidly responded in a number of ways:
* Convening a reflection where 80 community members discussed what the election of Donald Trump means and what it demands of all of us;
* Co-sponsoring a forum for educators on how to respond in the classroom;
* Holding a dialogue with 20 of our youth peace leaders about the election and what it meant;
* Partnering with Standing Together RVA at a community gathering;
* Convening a Building Resilience for Challenging Systemic Racism program that brought together community members from varied background for deep trauma informed healing, a program that had been in the works since before the election; and
* Serving as a support organization and encouraging attendance at the March on Monument January 14.
It’s struck me through all of these discussions how varied our members’ perspectives are when it comes to the election. For most, this election has been difficult. For others, particularly some of our African-American members and allies, the outcome changes little. Some of our immigrant members respond to that view with “Don’t tell me this election doesn’t matter.” Others, friends from countries that have suffered war and chaos, have reassured me and expressed confidence that American democratic institutions will prevail. For some who have experienced personal traumas, and for some from vulnerable populations, this election and the aftermath are deeply triggering. There is a rich tapestry of perspectives from within the Peace Center community, and the period after the election has required all of us to bring an honesty, and a mindfulness, and a compassion for one another into our discussions.
The Peace Center has begun a process of planning and outreach, to discern the additional steps we will take this year and over the long run. We are planning to form an RPEC Peace and Justice Advocacy Committee, which (with little in the way of staffing or funding at least initially) will guide the Center’s activities to respond to the Trump era. Stay tuned and stay connected…to us and to one another.