A few weeks ago I was asked if I would join other nonprofit organizations and sign the following letter on behalf of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. The letter, crafted by Lael Gray of the Asheville Jewish Community Center, spoke beautifully to our collective resolve against divisiveness and offered a message of light and love in troubling times. A clerical omission left United Way off the published version in the Asheville Citizen-Times, but our commitment to the spirit of that letter remains true. Here it is, along with a link to the full article.
- David Bailey, president and CEO United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County
We are truly blessed to live in a community that today strives to welcome and support people of every creed, ethnicity, religion, background, gender and orientation. We head into winter understanding that the cycles of nature can teach us so much about the interplay of darkness and light, dormancy and growth. Many of us who follow faith traditions will celebrate winter’s arrival with holiday lights and candles that glow brightly in the long winter nights, reminding us that humans have the power to create light and warmth in the midst of darkness.
There are so many organizations and individuals in Asheville that work every day to reach out across barriers, bringing greater understanding into our community and supporting those who are hurting and who long to be part of a loving community. When we look at all of these efforts together, it is easy to see that there is a strong web of resources and profound hope for our shared future.
There is still much work to be done in this world and in our own neighborhoods, to build equity and to make amends to those who are often unnoticed or disenfranchised by a society that is terrified of scarcity. In times of struggle, the temptation can be strong to retreat into our corners ready to fight. It is too often our tendency to yearn for a scapegoat who we can lay our fears upon, twisting our gift of light into flames of hatred.
The great thing about being human is that we have the ability to choose how we respond, both to external events and internal drives. Today, we are calling upon this entire community to join us in making a choice to shine a light of love in the world; to reject hatred and to seek out ways to quench our own biases with curiosity about those who seem different.
Together we can harness the power to steadfastly confront hatred and fear. We hope you will join us in a gathering to celebrate the strength of our community as we stand together in the light of hope on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place.
Lael Gray, Asheville Jewish Community Center