Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Jake HershmanThere are moments when words miserably fail to express our emotions. When we observe or experience something that shakes us at a deeper level than we typically allow ourselves to go. It is not a comfortable place. Often it’s a sobering and frightening place where the real and imagined protective barriers behind which we hide from real or imagined threats, are compromised or penetrated. Sometimes, what follows is an invading flow of disorienting and disturbing questions that might challenge our preconceptions about truth, security, justice, our neighbors  – ourselves.   
The choice we make about what to do with such a moment is important. For some, the confusion or the anxiety caused by unexpected exposure causes a frantic effort to rebuild our shields – to deflect or recast our thoughts and feelings in ways that help us re-insulate. Rather than listening to ourselves and these opportunities to more creatively and authentically redress imbalances in and around us, we might become defensive, reactive and closed to others. The irony is that this “protective” posture actually harms us, as it prevents us from living freely in connection with others who might help challenge or draw out elements of ourselves that we otherwise would ignore or lock within - missed opportunities to contribute, to innovate, to listen, to fail and to grow as individuals and communities. 
While we commonly miss or reject such moments on a daily basis, recent events in the United States are impossible to ignore any longer. Over the din of shooting, shouting, grievances, accusations, analysis, fear and loss, a pervading search for answers as to why such things continue to happen and how might enduring conditions be created that would extinguish such vulnerability and violence in our communities. Talking is helpful and listening perhaps even more critical. Prayer is paramount. And within all of that, the need for a cohesive and practical plan that addresses all levels of conflict within our US society – the personal, the relational, the cultural and the structural. We believe this holistic approach is the path to the destination Dr. King envisioned when he said “that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”
Our team at the Initiatives of Change USA perceives this moment as a pivotal opportunity for those of us seeking to create spaces where trust can be nurtured and solidified. To maximize this opportunity, we must be perceived as a trusted and accountable institutional presence within communities – reflecting not only humility and patience but also rigorous, self-evaluation. We deeply appreciate your continued support as we work to fashion the IofC into a change agency worthy of the urgent needs amidst us.