On November 7th, coming off of Break Away’s 25th Anniversary Weekend, our hearts felt full surrounded by the many people who came to celebrate Break Away and the Movement. As we wrapped up the evening, our Executive Director spoke to the people in that small room about how we had tasted what it would feel like to live in a society of active citizens. In our time together, we had built parts of that vision. If we knew how to build it here, we could build it out there.
November 8th came and went, and out there turned out to be more dire than we could have imagined the evening prior. In the hours that followed, a man who had espoused hatred and bigotry became one of our world’s most prominent leaders.
And because of this new reality, we cannot stay silent about the events of November 8:
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” - Elie Wiesel
The pain and devastation are real. We feel it, too. If you’re not ready to take action, take care of yourself, then prepare. Let this motivate you to organize - it’s what we’ve always done and it’s what we’ll continue doing.
We must act with urgency. Even after the thousands of refugees displaced by war, the murders of hundreds of black and brown people at the hands of police, the sexual violence that continues to plague our campuses and communities - we live, and will live, in a darker world than we knew before November 8.
When the system won’t support us, let us lean on each other. When our government only protects a few, let us defend the multitudes. When someone preaches division, let us stand together. Now is not the time to create further divide - to unfriend, to reject, to ignore, to fight. Now is the time to hear each other’s struggles, pain, and experience.
Part of our organizational message about alternative breaks is, “if you get to know the individuals for whom those issues are a reality, you’ll understand there’s no such thing as not my problem.” Every single one of us has a duty to protect and support our neighbors. To all our friends who have felt under attack from fear mongering and hateful rhetoric we heard during the campaign, we love you and stand with you. To all our friends who feel unheard, unseen, and misunderstood in any way - we are here to seek unity and understanding.
We’ve tasted kindness, community, intentionality, love, hope, resilience, perseverance, justice, and solidarity in the world of alternative breaks. We have started to build it and live it into reality. Now, we must continue to do it, out there.
We cannot wait for justice for all, we must demand it. There has never been a more critical time for us to join, lead, and connect. Love still triumphs over hate. Light still has the power to swallow darkness. We must believe another world is possible, and then, we must organize and create it.