Carmen Pitre, president and CEO of Sojourner, reflects on how to spread peace during a time of so much violence and suffering. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
I have been reflecting more and more on this question: “How can we live with an open heart in the midst of so much suffering?” The last few weeks have been a heavy and difficult time for our country. The recent events in Las Vegas remind us all of the fragility of life. Locally, Wisconsin is still suffering from violence, and our own communities in Milwaukee are hurting. End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin recently released its 2016 Domestic Violence Homicide Report, which contains more names – that is, it records more lives lost – than any previous Wisconsin Domestic Violence Homicide Report.
This report documents that domestic violence deaths occurred at a record pace in 2016 in our state: one death every five days. Basic human rights, like human dignity and peace, are still being denied to many. The frustration, struggle and fear in our neighborhoods continue to be palpable, and the need for a safe and peaceful community is still great.
Working to bring peace, and live with an open heart, is hard work. Community and connection are so very important during times of heartbreak and fear. We, collectively, need to continue to look for new ways to create hope for ourselves, and for our family, friends, neighbors and anyone in our community who feels hopeless. I know that I can only continue this hard work if I am in partnership with each of you. I want you all to know that you make a difference in our community. Know that the listening ear, comfort and time you give to each other remain important and bring hope into the lives of many. We are stronger when we stand together. We can make a difference when we care for each other.
We can spread peace by setting an example: practice self-care and advocate for each other’s wellness, confide and lean on each other during hard times, reflect, ask for help in times of need and share your voice. The most important messages we can give to survivors are, “You are not alone,” “It is not your fault,” and “I am here to help.” On some level, we are all aching to know that we are not alone and that we make a difference in the world. You can be a refugee to someone who is struggling by simply believing survivors when they come forward, understanding the resources that are available in our community, and being willing to help. At Sojourner we believe that everyone deserves safety, and that a life free from violence is a basic human right. We believe that, together, we can create hope and provide light in dark times for people who are hurting. We know that, together, we can transform Milwaukee.
Join us in delivering these critically important messages to survivors in our community. Let’s create safe spaces where light, love and compassion, for others and ourselves, can exist.
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