A Call for Compassion, Peace and Community

On behalf of our Sister Cities International network, all of our members and partners, we would like to extend our most sincere condolences to the communities, families, and individuals in Gilroy, CA, Dayton, OH, and El Paso, TX who have been affected by the violent acts perpetrated over the past few days. We laud the work of the first responders and medical professionals who have done everything in their power to heal the wounds of these attacks. These tragedies cannot, and should not, be overlooked. In this trying time for our country, we turn to what unites us, and what makes us stronger together.

All three communities have come together to support each other in the wake of these vile acts. This is where change starts. The recognition that each one of us has a duty to keep our communities safe, and to lift up our neighbors. The immense community support should not however end once the victims have been helped; it should serve as a building block against future actions of violence.

Too often, we are surrounded by messages of hate and divisiveness, and forget to see the gift of humanity in all people. Mutual respect and understanding act as the foundation of peace, and as an antidote to hate. Taking the time to be involved in the community, offering support to our neighbors, and simply having a friendly conversation with members of our community all foster respect between people.

These tragedies resonate deeply with us at Sister Cities International. Our mission is to promote peace, and these violent and hateful acts go against everything we stand for. Fundamentally, our network acts to reduce misunderstanding and divisiveness, by connecting people to the world, and cultivating strong interpersonal connections that can be leveraged and sustained for support.  We will continue to focus on youth programming, to help create the next generations of leaders, while giving them a platform to speak on issues such as peace-building, strengthening communities and gun violence. The theme of our Young Artists and Authors Showcase for 2020 will be “One World: Out of Many, We are One”, an ode to our common humanity.

 

As the photo above captures, we recently convened our annual conference in Houston, Texas where more than 140 young adults sang the song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” As we take the time to reflect after this week of tragedies, we realize that we are more similar than different, despite our different cultures, geographies, and upbringings. We realize that now more than ever, we should come together around the values of peace, cooperation, respect, and understanding to create a brighter tomorrow.

In the coming months, we encourage communities within our network to hold dialogues about peace-building, creating strong communities, and gun violence, as we continue to foster local change that addresses community-specific concerns. Our thoughts are with the Mexican and German nationals killed in El Paso. In 2020, we will also be hosting a U.S. – Mexico Sister Cities Summit in El Paso, TX together with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico focusing on the enduring ties, and economic and cultural bonds that inform the unique relationships between the United States and Mexico.

All Sister Cities are called to gather at 12 noon local time on Monday, August 12, 2019, International Youth Day. A joint proclamation will be issued that day by Sister Cities International and Charter for Compassion International. It will be dedicated to Our Children and Our Children’s Children. High noon gatherings will form a 24-hour virtual and global community of compassionate support. A packet will be available shortly with some ideas for planning your August 12 gatherings, social media promotion, press releases, and a copy of the proclamation.

 


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