Coming together to support our neighbors: Sunday, March 24, 3-5 pm at the Hudson Valley Islamic Community Center
Dear Putnam Valley Community:
The terrorist attack at the Mosque in New Zealand has created a new awareness of the heightened frequency and horror of targeted hate attacks of innocent victims. There is something particularly terrible about murders in places of worship and schools, sanctuaries from the fears and troubles of daily life. We do know that there has been a surge of such violence throughout our nation and the world. Our schools have been urgently training our staff, adding security personnel, and developing infrastructure to do everything possible to create a safe environment. Yet, it is clear that there are those whose purpose is to destroy hopes and erode confidence. Sometimes the violence is reflected in words of hate; too often the violence is expressed as deadly force. There is no place in the world to hide quietly from the fear and rage that strikes out without reason. For students who see their families in the faces of victims, their home and community may be distant from the terrible incident, but in their spirits and emotions, they are completely vulnerable. They have reason to be afraid as social media portrays so much of the violence undisguised and in real time. It is almost unfathomable that we are assaulted in this way through our phones, and that this has become commonplace.
I remember the horror when the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed in 1963, and four young girls were killed. It was a terrible moment that galvanized the civil rights movement. How do we help our students make sense of this world? That is our role as educators. Yet schools are reminded daily that we are potential targets of hate. Sometimes the assaults are with words that have become weapons that poison our children’s comfort and well-being, words that we are seeking to eliminate from our school environments to promote respect and dignity. We have seen that terror again and again just this year, and there does not seem to be a way out of this cycle, except for the acts of unity, as people gather to show their support for victims, and pray for peace.
For Putnam Valley, the act of coming together to show caring and support is a natural response to terrible incidents, unspeakable losses of children, and acts that destroy the peace of worship and families. When the attack in Christ Church was broadcast, our Muslim friends and neighbors knew that they would have the prayers of their community with them, just as the Jewish community members experienced the closeness of their neighbors during the Pittsburgh massacre. Somehow we must find ways to empower our children and our families to express our caring for one another. We can have the most impact in our own sphere of action. There is a power in coming together as a community that salvages our civility, our humanity. It is with this hope for unity and compassion, that there will be a special gathering at the Hudson Valley Islamic Community Center on Sunday, March 24 from 3-5 PM to join together in solidarity with healing conversations at this time of mourning and unity.
Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools
HVICC Flyer (2).pdf