I hear frequent expressions of disillusionment not only from colleagues, but also from members of my community. They’re frustrated by daily reports of violence at home and abroad. They’re disturbed by expressions of intolerance and ignorance worldwide. They’re weary from the past ten years, which have been marked by economic instability, military interventions, and escalating violence in an increasing number of hot spots.
I’m here to tell you that there is hope. Between activists, coalition builders, government institutions and elected officials, we’re all thinking about some of the toughest issues out there. The sticky point is that if we fail – whether by inaction, oversight, or by just not making the right choice – the most vulnerable of the wold’s people are impacted.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to meet with dozens of anti-genocide and mass atrocity activists in the heart of American democracy. My colleagues and I spoke with more than 25 representatives of elected officials, and regardless of race, religion, home state, and political affiliation, all hold at their core the integral American values of freedom from oppression, justice, and commitment to human rights.
Two days ago, Carl Wilkens spoke eloquently about the concept of pain as a tool. For example, if you burn your hand, it’s a warning that the surface you came in contact with is not safe for you and allows you the opportunity to change your action. Applied on a larger scale and generalized, it means that mass-scale suffering is a neon billboard that screams, “It’s time to fix what’s broken.”
The amazing diversity of individuals I’ve encountered over the past weekend are the very people that are generating the conversation about how to reframe conflict in a way that responds to changing circumstances and empowers victims, perpetrators, and their communities to not move on, but to create a new narrative.
This unity of purpose is the only thing that can make our impact more than a drop in the bucket.
Together, we can change the world.