A young boy is walking down the hallway of his school. Another child shoves him into the lockers, breaking his glasses and ripping his shirt. “You’re a piece of sh#*. You people should leave.”
That’s how my grandfather described his third year as a New Yorker in 1932, a fifteen-year old Jew in a school that was far from welcoming to the influx of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. He later went on to spend 5 decades as a Stanford physicist leading breakthrough research, but he never forgot the feeling of being targeted.
Today, many of us feel an increased sense of fear and anxiety at the alarming breakdown of our public and political language. Vitriolic rhetoric is on the rise, and it’s not just words. Violence, harassment and threats are on the rise as well.
In times like these, it is critical to remain firm in our beliefs. And these are much more important than political affiliations; these beliefs are at the root of who we are and how we choose to lead our lives.
We must restate our values and remind ourselves what we stand for. We must commit to upholding the essential American value not to discriminate on the basis of national origin, religion, sexual preference, race, gender, or any other differences. We must show compassion to each other and especially to those who are feeling threatened or uneasy. Diversity is a necessity, and a reflection of our great nation.
We must provide extra care and support to those whose nationalities and religious beliefs are the targets of threats or policies.
We must affirm the American tradition of offering humanitarian support to those who need it most.
We must commit to treating others with generosity, dignity and compassion.
This is the unobstructed view we must stand for and achieve.
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