It has been a difficult year. But for some, this year’s seeming upsurge of violence represents only the now-visible crest over a lifetime of submerged struggle and frustration against systemic abuse. History tells a different tale. We are not experiencing a new and dangerous age; No, for there remains a long record of racism, lynch mobs, violence against women, and murder of people professing different faith or gender orientation than those with power and motivation to silence them. In the face of terror–in light of Orlando, of Dallas, of Nice, of Syria, of Turkey, and of tragedies in our own towns and cities–we are apt to feel helpless and overwhelmed. We may be tempted to silence, to the feeling that nothing we say will matter. This is true of victims, who feel their words go no where. This is also true of allies and of those whose race or gender keeps them safe (or safer) from the abuses they witness. What could I possibly have to say? We may think, in shame, or in anger, that silence is all we have…
Today, be encouraged. And be loud. Let us remind each other that silence often serves to divide and to strengthen the brutalities of broken systems. We must not give up on making this a better world. We must not give up speaking to strengthen and edify. Your voice matters. Black. White. Gay. Straight. Activists. Police. Pacifists. Armed service members. To all of you, everywhere, this is your sounding call. We honor your voice. We offer you a place to speak hope, as well as anger, to talk solutions and problems, to have open and honest dialogue. This is our quote quilt. May it’s corners stretch hope a little further into our dark world.
Join us. Speak. Below are but the beginning. Add your words here.
QUOTE QUILT: HOPE AGAINST SYSTEMIC VIOLENCE
“Every day, when I come to work I have the fortune of witnessing the very best of human endeavour. I work with people from all walks of life, who come from all corners of the globe to undertake medical research. These people work side by side, laughing and sharing the challenges to improve lives everywhere. Nearly every day I read the news and witness the exact opposite: division based on skin colour, religion and minor differences that are further driven by fear. It is nothing short of heartbreaking – I’ve seen the best of what people can achieve, what they can be if given a chance, the heights we can reach when we work together. I know what we are capable of. We must stand against repression, of violence and of divisiveness. We must work together to bring out the best in humanity, to give everyone the chance to live in peace, for that is what every human deserves.”
–Janette Edson, BSc (Microbiology), MSc (Clinical Biochemistry), Sequencing Manager Centre for Brain Genomics, Queensland Brain Institute
From Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye:
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend. [read more]
“What puts the “system” in systemic violence? It is the diffuseness of the threat: every African American fears a traffic stop; every woman steels herself to walk alone at night; every gay couple hesitates to express affection in public. Thus individual acts of violence create a broader culture of continual, pervasive menace for these groups. To be an ally: open your heart, lower your defenses… and listen.”
–Nancy Mandeville Caciola, History Professor, UC San Diego
From Praise the Mutilated World, by Adam Zagajewski:
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world. [read more]
“While I myself identify as a Christian agnostic, my friends of deep faith have modeled for me the practice of acting in hope even when feeling hopeful proves elusive. Even while we may be despairing that the world we work for is practically achievable it is important to live as if it is — because the act of living as if the impossible is possible makes it a little more possible with every decision and subsequent action. Care for one another in small, concrete, daily ways in defiance of a world that tells us these daily actions do not matter.
–Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Historian, Writer, Queer Feminist
From For You by Carl Sandburg:
The peace of great doors be for you.
Wait at the knobs, at the panel oblongs.
Wait for the great hinges…
…The peace of great changes be for you.
Whisper, Oh beginners in the hills.
Tumble, Oh cubs – tomorrow belongs to you. [read more]
“I think the greatest challenge in the face of extraordinary or sustained violence is our tendency to feel our own slightness. The sense that we are shouting into a hurricane, the feeling both of futility but also of the immeasurable unworthiness of our own words, can wrap us in silence. We fear we cannot speak aright. But only in speaking can we begin dialog, and only in dialog do we grow our own little voice into something bigger, louder. Walt Whitman said “I am large, I contain multitudes.” Together, we are large. We are bigger than the darkness we face.”
–Brandy Schillace, PhD, Historian, Author, Editor