Vigil for Solidarity: Live the Mission
By Dr. Drew Bogner, President
I want to begin by acknowledging the special nature of the Molloy Community that has come together today to mourn lives lost and to stand in solidarity for a different vision of the world.
Last week demonstrated the worst of humanity, the senseless killings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Kroger Supermarket in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, and the pipe bombs delivered to political figures, all acts driven by hate.
At Molloy College we stand for the best in humanity committed to respecting the dignity of every person without qualification. In response to his disciples' query of what we must do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus says simply that we must love our neighbor as ourselves. There is no qualification given to this love.
Molloy College was founded by the Dominican Sisters of Amityville as a transformative entity, committed to transforming the world into a more just and compassionate place, a place where love and respect triumph over hate, prejudice, and bullying.
In June I traveled with students from Molloy College to Japan and China. During that time, particularly in China, I had little contact with news outlets. Returning after the hiatus, I was unprepared for the rhetoric, incivility, and toxic political climate of American politics.
With clarity that might have been missing within the din of hourly and daily news, I came to an epiphany about what was really at stake in the dangerous pivot from historic social and political norms. I placed these observations into the following poem:
The Slippery Slope
Let us set politics aside
And look at what is happening in America from the inside,
Evaluating the nastiness that has settled upon our land,
Changing how we treat each other and extend a fisted hand.
I don't really care if we build a wall,
Make it deep and wide and tall.
The impact of a tariff or a regulation added or undone
Will have but little impact on history's long run.
But the redefinition of character
And the blur of right and wrong
Is what my mind and soul know to be the warning gong.
Lying is now no more a sin
If it is used to accomplish your end.
Preying upon the weak,
Bullying the meek,
Defaming others to gain power,
These are only tactics of the hour.
Are these now things of the past?
But stop and think of the consequences
If we allow this new world to last.
Can a society really function if individuals are free to demonize and divide?
Do you really want to live in a world where nothing is left inside?
Can we exist if nothing is true?
Verifiable, factual and undeniable?
And what of accountability?
Mistakes and misdeeds can now be set aside
As irrelevant and outdated morality
It if is only what happens in the end that we abide.
Do you not feel it slipping away?
That dishonesty is now okay
And that we have redefined what is socially acceptable to do and say.
And where does it now leave us
When the leaders of our country act this way
And do nothing to temper its sway
Condemn its authenticity
With what should be undeniable veracity?
Are we willing to unbind the moral glue that we were all taught as true?
That what is most important is
How we act
And tell the truth,
The commonly held morality once held under every roof.
So, do we accept what we see or choose to act?
If we want to change the world, we must stand together and proclaim that intolerance is wrong whether it is about race, religion, diversity of thought, gender identification, or any other defining characteristic.
As the president of a Catholic college, I personally denounce hate in all its forms as evil and proclaim that I will not equivocate on bigotry and attempt to explain it away. Instead, I will respond with love and respect for my neighbor.
I would like to ask you to join me in pledging to live and abide in the following manner:
- To push back against hatred and divisiveness by performing daily acts of kindness.
- To adopt a reflective manner cultivating self-awareness in order to build relationships that support a diverse community.
- To be open to each other's truth, listening in a non-defensive way.
- That you will speak up against those who would tear down others by derogatory remarks.
- That you will show respect to everyone regardless of any qualification, whether it be race, religion, gender, or sexual identification.
- That you will not forward hurtful and damaging social media or communications.
- By your actions to actively promote civility.
Words matter - what you say, or choose not to say, builds the reality in which we live.
If you lead with love - then we will have a world of love.
If you support those who bully and denigrate others, then we have a world where this becomes the norm.
Remember what you have pledged today and live your life that way!