Bearing Witness

by Billy Shore

Confronting Bigotry With Values: Our New Moral Imperative

Monday, December 05, 2016

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The following excerpt was the last of 5 points made this morning at our Summer Meals Summit, about how Share Our Strength and other nonprofits must navigate the new political environment:

           Our political culture has evolved from unpleasantly divided to unacceptably ugly.  It is undeniable that we’ve seen bigotry, misogyny and racism become more accepted and normalized. Leave aside where the blame may lie, but make no mistake, this not only stands in the way of our specific goals, but it also transcends them in importance. We have an obligation to make the values that have always been implicit in our work, explicit. We need not and should not do so in a partisan, divisive or finger pointing way.  But we must say out loud that our values of inclusiveness and diversity mean that when we say No Kid Hungry we mean No Kid. No city kid and no rural kid. No Baptist child and no Muslim child. No fifth generation American child and no immigrant American child. No straight kid and no gay kid.  No white or black or Latino kid. And while we must work with anyone, from any party, from any Administration who is willing to join us in combatting the politics and bureaucracy and indifference that too often stand between a hungry child and a healthy meal, there will be no ambiguity about our values.

            I urge all of our colleagues in the public, nonprofit and civic sectors to do the same. Whether their work is poverty or climate change, health care or hunger, We face a new moral imperative. It’s a tough assignment. We’ve succeeded by sticking to our knitting. And it is tempting to continue to do so.  Speaking out against hate speech is the job of the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations. It’s their core competence, not ours.  But when such behavior begins to flourish out in the open as it has and is, we can’t leave it to others to defend the very people we seek to serve, and work alongside.   Universal human dignity must be the underpinning for what we do and how we do it.