Like many communities around the country, Mashpee expressed a show of outrage last May over the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in broad daylight. That incident may be seen as the straw that broke the camel’s back and made us realize that, as a society, that is not what we accept. We came out in droves to say this to the world—we do not accept racism. So it is discouraging, to say the least, when we hear recent stories of hate crimes committed in our local communities (racist graffiti at Lowell Holly Reservation, a dismembered doll left in a private resident’s yard with racist messages). It is hard to imagine the thinking that is behind such acts.
It would seem that racial prejudice is the most vital and challenging issue facing our country today, and it is time for a renewed examination and commitment to the ideal that this country was founded on, E Pluribus Unum—out of many, one.
A new moral and social direction is needed, and it will take all of us to create a new framework for justice. Legislative changes are required in many areas including law enforcement, employment and education as well as fair pay and access to good healthcare for all. More importantly, however, we need to be building relationships with each other based on sincere friendship and trust that will in turn affect whole communities and the institutions within them. Morality cannot be legislated, but rather a change of heart is required if we are to achieve real and lasting progress. We should be working on creating new models of unity that will include honest conversations about current conditions and their causes. We need to develop the capacity to hear and acknowledge the voices of the victims of injustice in all arenas—media, schools, workplaces, etcetera. Both overt acts of blatant racism and pervasive microaggressions stunt our collective spiritual growth as a people. There are so many opportunities on the Cape to speak out against these injustices, especially in recent months.
The thoughts presented in this letter are inspired by a recent statement from the Baha’is of the United States entitled “Forging a Path to Racial Justice” that was released in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. A national conversation has begun regarding racial justice, and we must ask ourselves: Who are we as a society, what do we believe, what will we tolerate and what will we become? Our hope is that the Mashpee community can come together to create ways of living and working together in unity and peace. All religions hold in their teachings some version of the Golden Rule. Recognizing that we are all from the same Creator gives us access to vast spiritual resources that will assist us in working toward unity. It is time to join hands with each other in our commitment to creating justice for all. There is a lot of work to be done.
Mashpee Baha’i Group
Teresa Donovan, Secretary