Paving Paths to Understanding and Healing
Faculty from multiple faiths are invited to share reflections prior to our faculty meetings. As fate would have it, I was asked to share a reflection prior to yesterday’s faculty meeting. While my reflections are usually lighter and universal, my heart was heavy. Here are my words:
We return from the Fall break – a time which I hope was that pause between the notes of life that you all needed and provided you with some measure of rest and rejuvenation.
The personal becomes political no matter how hard we try to avoid it. We have students, staff and faculty with strong ties to Israel. We have students, staff and faculty with strong ties to Gaza.
For those of us tied by text messages, social media, family and faith to Israel, the Fall Break was grueling and devastating and sickening and terrifying. We were quickly thrown into grief – a very personal and painful grief awakening us to our historical vulnerability. More Jews died on Saturday than any day since the Holocaust.
For those tied by history, family and faith to the Palestinian community the news has been and continues to be devastating, as well. Innocent Gazan civilians are trapped in an unending cycle of violence that they do not deserve and over which they have little control.
A more than century old conflict continues to cause death and devastation rather than nurture life and hope. The realities continue to oppress rather than redeem.
How do we live in two worlds – the world of our classroom and campus and the greater world? We don’t.
We have to create a campus that can handle emotions, at times, of grief and pain, of horror and struggle, and at other times, of hope and celebration.
We have to create a campus that can share multiple narratives in a way that does not alienate, isolate, and create greater danger and harm, by wrestling with history and applying it today, by critically questioning it, by identifying facts and disarming disinformation, by offering a clarity and humanity, that I pray emerges through an academic lens.
As faculty, may we create on our Queens campus a space of sanctuary, a place where hate is condemned, where polarization is dismantled, and paths to healing, humanity, hope, and peace are always being paved.