A week ago Saturday, I was attending a wedding in Northern California when events in Charlottesville, Virginia, rocked the nation. As we returned home and news seeped in, I was startled by the purpose of the protest, the protection provided under the First Amendment, and the negligence that allowed the situation to escalate to the point that an individual was killed simply by being a counter-protestor. I know I speak for the entire Westmont community when I state that we stand against racism in all its forms and particularly the violent racism displayed a week ago in Charlottesville. Racism has many sources, including twisted theologies that destroy the very fabric of our society. These are not and never have been viewed as acceptable expressions or “rights” of free speech. Hate speech in any form is always wrong and is never acceptable.
At Westmont, we’re guided by a community life statement that calls us to love one another and to practice civility as a basic ingredient of a healthy community. We learn how to practice integrity, confession, and forgiveness as we attempt to live in reconciled relationships with one another. We embrace and follow the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr., who exclaimed, “… hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We believe community is only built when we set aside our own self-centeredness to cultivate other-centered practices that nurture a love of neighbor. We also believe that all humans are created in the image of God, which includes the responsibility to value human presence, celebrate human creativity, and promote relationships based on the ideals of trust, compassion, and forbearance that lie at the heart of all human communities.
If we take to heart any lessons from the events in Charlottesville, let us resolve to cultivate the love and respect that thrives at the center of every life-giving community.
Dr. Gayle D. Beebe, President