Seven young women walk out of a bar. This is no joke. One is targeted, isolated, harassed. She is transgender. She is left beaten on the street.

Whoever did this thing, we cannot say, “but this is not my Lewisburg.” Lewisburg is, like too many other places, a town where people of color are harassed on the street and the queer community is often afraid. We live in a world where violence, first vocal and then physical, is becoming an acceptable, even admirable response to difference. This isn’t a metaphor; this is a nasty reality: a young woman was left beaten on our street.

Our institutions are failing us when they teach violence and not Love. And if we’re not teaching love, we are allowing and even abetting violence. We could argue for hours about this, but we don’t have time as a young person was left beaten on our street.

We need to be done with head-shaking and commit ourselves to another way. Schools, churches, town and county councils, police departments, business organizations, unions, neighborhoods, boards of trustees and individuals need to understand that fear, hatred, and violence are our issues to confront. It is in our power to make certain that no person is left beaten on our street.

We have resources in this town. Penn Garvin and Doug Orbaker have been living and teaching nonviolence for years. The CommUnity Zone, led by Cynthia Peltier, offers sanctuary and resources. The United Way is here. There are programs available and experts to be brought in. We need bystander training. Nonviolence training. Anti-racist training. Gender training. All of us.

Nonviolence and peacemaking are not ephemeral, feel-good notions. They are the loving way to make a life and a livable community. They are skills that can be learned. We are on a frightening and slippery slope.

For us to be able to say that this is not Lewisburg, we have to commit to Peacemaking and nonviolence. Let’s act now.

Rev. Ann Keeler Evans,

The Priestess is In

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