Truth Crushed to the Ground Will Rise Again

 

“What gives you #TangibleHope in the world today? How do your values and/or belief systems come into conversation with this #TangibleHope?

Rev. Kevin Kitrell Ross, spiritual leader, author, radio host, motivational speaker and all-around social justice activist responds:

After reading the prompt, it took me a moment to come to the place where I could meaningfully respond and point out examples of “tangible hope” that would inspire other bridge builders, light workers, and peacemakers to continue their important mission. 

Having witnessed the candidacy and election of one of the most divisive and contentious political figures to the nation’s highest office, I was at a loss for tangible hope – this presidency is seemingly diametrically opposed to the values of inclusion, diversity, peacemaking, civil and human rights, environmental justice, international diplomacy, and the Beloved community that we all devote countless hours toward building.  

What has been easier to find than tangible hope, is evidence of tangible disgrace. Of course, like any tough-minded optimist, I refuse to allow the ignorance of some to distract me from believing in the potential of all.

As we speak, social media is filled with hateful memes, derogatory messages, images of young whites in blackface and graffiti defacing our outgoing President’s image.  Muslim mothers are telling Muslim daughters not to wear the hijab. I told my Puerto Rican wife to be careful as extremists in the streets have been spotted yelling at a young Latina, “go back where you came from.”  And stories of African Americans being harassed on public transportation are all-too-common – in one instance, a young white male asked, “Aren’t you supposed to be sitting at the back of the bus?”  What has been easier to find than tangible hope, is evidence of tangible disgrace.

Of course, like any tough-minded optimist, I refuse to allow the ignorance of some to distract me from believing in the potential of all. Admittedly, however, I needed some breathing space before I could recover my stride.

As such, there are so many good examples of tangible hope that are worthy of pointing out who are fine examples of what’s possible when we remain undeterred by even the most damning of evidence to our cause.

In this very moment, people from all walks of life have taken to the streets in cities across this nation in protest to an electoral college victory for the President-Elect, when his opponent won the popular vote.  This stand to challenge the arguably outmoded electoral college is evidence of tangible hope.

Recently, I sat with the Advisory Council of the Association for Global New Thought in San Diego, California.  I was pleased to hear how Leaders representing hundreds of thousands of people were committed to raising their profile and serving as “positive pundits,” representing a “conscious majority” of Americans who are committed to co-creating a world that works for all.  One tangible step they are taking is to expand their “Season for Nonviolence” initiative to include more congregations, classrooms, and marginalized communities.

Additionally, as a member of the Mountain-Valley Chapter of American Leadership Forum, I have enjoyed participating in Implicit Bias Training with arguably some of America’s most influential business and community leaders.  All voluntarily enrolled in the course with the intention of learning how to detect, deter, and disrupt patterns of implicit bias within ourselves and use our knowledge to build more inclusive, culturally awake, and diversity -aware policies, workplaces, and communities.

Despite the extreme vitriol and strife shown in the campaigns of both Presidential candidates, two of my mentees were not deterred from entering public service. Tracey ran for Mayor of Elk Grove as a first-time candidate.  While she didn’t win, she did manage to snag 12 percent of the vote,gained two major endorsements and gained lots of experience for the future. Montez Sterling Cobb, after passing the bar in three states, turned down the private sector and is serving in Washington, DC as a U.S. Trial Attorney.

Finally, my work with Unity of Sacramento and the interfaith, cross-sector coalition through Sacramento Area Congregations Together (SAC ACT) and Project LEAD (Law Enforcement A Directive) has brought together Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jews, and people in the New Thought Community to challenge the Sacramento City Council to revise its ineffective Police Commission so that police-involved shootings and misconduct can be investigated by a civilian lead commission with authority to enact best practices that promote transparency and accountability. Leaders are standing up for the families of unarmed victims of police-shooting deaths, like Joseph Man who was shot 14 times by a bad actor in law enforcement; whose “shoot and ask questions later” behavior will leave an empty chair at the Man’s family thanksgiving dinner table.

Tonight, as I leave the office, I remain inspired by the resilience of leaders who through their passion to build the Beloved Community, keep pressing against the societal midnights and shadows into the blinding daybreaks of morning justice.  

Together we have witnessed our values crushed to the ground, but we remember that no barrier, nor wall nor resistance can stop the onslaught of persistent hope.  Because of these tangible examples, I remain devoted to being a force for good in the world.

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rev-ross-tangiblehopeReverend Kevin Ross uses his gifts to inspire hundreds weekly as the Spiritual Leader of Unity of Sacramento, thousands as the host of “Design Your Life” on Unity Online radio and millions when he paid tribute to Oprah Winfrey as an invited guest on Oprah’s Surprise Spectacular. He is the author of the book The Designer Life: Five Distinctions for Living. Ross’ work has been featured in Ebony, Black Enterprise, The Chicago Sun Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and man other publications as a voice of empowerment for his generation.

Every Tuesday, the #TangibleHope Diaries series features responses from North American grassroots peacebuilders on what gives them tangible hope in the world today. See you next week! Learn more here.

This Election Season, Hope is Hard

Valarie Kaur's #TangibleHope Diary

“What gives you #TangibleHope in the world today? How do your values and/or belief systems come into conversation with this #TangibleHope?”

Valarie Kaur, filmmaker, civil rights lawyer, activist and Sikh thought leader, responds:

Sometimes hope is hard to see.

This election season, rage and fear have dominated American politics. Communities of color have been vilified, shamed, and intimidated; hate groups have increased for the first time in five years, and reports of hate crimes against Sikh and Muslim Americans have tripled.

This election season, hope is hard.

But my Sikh faith teaches us the spirit of Chardi Kala ever-rising optimism and revolutionary love even in darkness.

For me, this means I must fight despair with optimism each day. And when I do this, I begin to see signs of #TangibleHope all around me.

I see this in my family friend Rana Sodhi.

On September 15, 2001, Rana’s brother Balbir Singh Sodhi, a turbaned Sikh father who lived and worked in Arizona, was the first of dozens killed in hate crimes in the aftermath of 9/11. Since then, Rana and I — along with a generation of activists — have fought to end hate in America.

But 15 years of activism could not prevent this era of enormous rage. So to test our own ability to love this election season, Rana Sodhi and I did something we had never done before.

We called his brother’s murderer in prison — and Rana forgave him.

It was the first step down a long and difficult road toward reconciliation. But in a time when America is grappling with a seemingly endless cycle of violence — terrorism followed by hate violence, followed by another terror attack and even more violence — Rana’s example models a kind of love that breaks the cycle.

This is Revolutionary Love — love that drives courageous and loving action in the world, even for those who disagree with us or hurt us.

I have seen a movement for Revolutionary Love emerge this Fall. Thousands of American gathered together in 100+ dialogues and film screenings across the nation on how to meet hate with love and courage this election season. Two hundred became Ambassadors of Revolutionary Love, committed to championing love in their lives — at schools and workplaces, online, at the kitchen table, and in the voting booth. And together, we took the message on the road through the Together Tour — a first-ever women’s speaking tour that reached 20,000+ people in packed theaters across America, championing the call to love this election season.

Now we are turning that love into action in the countdown to Election Day. Our Revolutionary Love Ambassadors are teaming with Emerge USA to stand with Muslim Americans and support their right to vote. With every new threat of voter intimidation at the polls, Muslim families worry that they may not be able to exercise the sacred and fundamental right to vote. We are making 10,000+ calls offering support and key polling information, a simple but substantial act that increases the likelihood that they will vote — and feel supported by their fellow Americans.

We have a choice this election season: Will we let the next generation inherit our fear and rage? Or will we recommit our nation to love? Thousands of Americans are choosing love.

And that gives me hope.


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valarie-kaur

Valarie Kaur is an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights lawyer, activist, author, entrepreneur, Sikh thought leader, and movement-builder who uses stories to drive social change. Inspired by the Sikh faith, her new venture, the Revolutionary Love Project, harnesses the ethic of love to drive courageous action in American public life. Learn more about it here: http://revolutionarylove.net/