These are strange days in America. Not unprecedented, but indeed strange. And days that many of us mistakenly believed to lie completely in the past.
Charlottesville. Berkeley. Ferguson. Baltimore. Charleston.
Over the past year, we’ve seen hate on the march in those places and elsewhere, including right here in Cincinnati.
Disgusting and absolutely unacceptable. I will do everything I can to find who did this and hold them accountable. pic.twitter.com/NqcYB9UUP3— Chris Seelbach (@ChrisSeelbach) January 3, 2017
As we’ve seen unrest crop up with increasing frequency, we’re reminded that the onus isn’t just on individuals, civic organizations, lawmakers and the free press to create and maintain a just, equitable and democratic society.
Organizations have that responsibility, too.
Regardless of your politics, religion, or beliefs, you can’t argue that responsibility begins at home. Our President and CEO, Laura Lamb, wants to send a message — to our team members and residents here at Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS), to our cherished residents and their loved ones, and to her fellow business leaders.
Hate cannot be tolerated.
Not in our society. Not in our schools. Not in our places of worship. Not in our homes. And not in our workplaces.
To that end, she recently sent the following memo to all Episcopal Retirement Services employees. And we wanted others to be able to read it as well.
The events in our country over the last two weeks have been troubling. We sit in disbelief feeling physically sick and helpless as we watch the hatred and violence play out across our country.
One of our Core Values is Inclusion. Inclusion means valuing collaboration and diversity of thought, experiences and perspective. It is appreciating that we are better together, leveraging our strengths and differences.
There is no room for hatred or supremacy views in a culture that values inclusion. Because of this, I must speak out to all staff about these issues. My message is simple:
1. We believe all individuals have infinite worth, deserve respect, and should be treated equally.
2. ERS is a safe place for all persons regardless of race, religion, background and sexual orientation.
3. ERS is a place of love and acceptance.
If at any time you feel that we are not upholding these three principles, I ask that you would reach out to me directly. I also know, because some of you have reached out to me, that not everyone is feeling safe in this world.
We are geographically diverse as an organization, having communities in the suburbs, inner city, rural America and everything in between. The issues in Louisville and Cincinnati can be different than Anderson and Cambridge. Scenes from Charlottesville could play out in the cities we serve.
However, our communities are safe havens and we will do everything we can to make our residents and staff safe if there is community unrest.
Lastly, many find it helpful to talk about these matters so that, together, we can grow and understand.
The Servant Leadership Team will be hosting several meetings for anyone that would like to talk and process your thoughts. We will review articles about how to talk to our children and building relationships across differences. These meetings will be offered via video conferencing as well so that staff can attend remotely.
Love and understanding will prevail even during these dark times. We can come together and show the good and love in the world.
I am reminded of a quote by Nelson Mandela:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
We will be there for one another and walk this journey together.
Hate cannot be tolerated.
That’s not just our corporate stance. It’s something we must all — individuals, corporations and businesses, civic organizations, and government leaders — make clear.
We must unite and speak with one voice.
Rest assured, we here at ERS will do everything in our power to make our communities safe, tolerant, person-centered and loving places for all.
Because we are all human beings, deserving of dignity and respect.