Since the founding of Higher Ground four years ago, the four of us have striven to communicate in ways that are respectful toward different faith traditions and encourage honest and open dialogue among them.
Thus, our reaction toward the anti-Semitic graffiti/swastika incident at the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house at Emory University (a predominately Jewish fraternity) is one of utter dismay. This type of behavior is communication in its most destructive form.
Any use of the Nazi swastika as a symbol of Nazism to show antagonism toward another group is a reprehensible act. The use of this symbol not only offends and hurts the group against which it is used, but also degrades those using it to express their hatred of another. We add our voices to those in leadership at Emory in condemning this shameful episode.
Although this type of behavior is unacceptable, it is an opportunity to learn. We can learn afresh how to recognize evil and name it for what it is. We can recommit ourselves to the absolute moral principle that anti-Jewish attitudes and acts have no place in Atlanta — or anywhere else in the world. We can teach ourselves, through a foundation of knowledge, how to peacefully live in a society that is faith-based but not faith-biased.
So, what can we do? We can make common cause with one another — with people whose religious identities are different from ours and with those who identify with no religion — in resisting evil and seeking to promote what is good for our city and the whole human family of which we are a part.
That work begins with open and honest dialogue among people committed to finding and taking the higher ground in these fractious, fretful times. Wisdom from the tradition of Judaism illumines the only way ahead:
What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow human being. That is the entire law: all the rest is commentary.
That being said, may not only the Emory University community, but our greater community as well, use this act as an opening to genuine dialogue among groups who hold opposing views.
The Higher Ground Group
- Rev. Joanna Adams
- Imam Plemon El Amin
- Rev. Joe Roberts
- Rabbi Alvin Sugarman