Dear Members of the UMass Dartmouth Community:
Today at noon, we will sound the bells of the campanile 49 times and at sundown and through the evening we will shower the campanile in a rainbow of light in remembrance of the 49 people whose lives were taken in Orlando on Sunday.
As the bells ring, please take a moment to reflect on how fragile and precious life is and the importance of making every day count for ourselves and each other. But let’s also ask ourselves, what now?
The act of reflection in silence can be healing during times of sorrow. The act of gathering together to confront fear can be comforting. The act of proclaiming solidarity and support for a community under attack can be strengthening.
Consider that just a week ago, our nation was celebrating a Muslim as a national hero, and today national figures are debating whether all Muslims should be banned from entering our country.
Consider that an innocent group of happy young people in Orlando, Florida, with bright futures and enjoying life, harming no one, were given a death sentence due to who they were.
Today, reflection and demonstrations of solidarity – sadly – just do not seem enough – unless we all use the quiet energy fueled perhaps by a mixture of anger, fear, and compassion to ignite real change.
What would that change look like – a nation where common sense rules our approach to gun ownership?….or where the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness is truly available to all regardless of your sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, and any other characteristic that makes you the unique person you are?
Such outcomes seem out of reach today, but they are not. Consider the words of that Muslim American hero – Muhammad Ali:
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it,” he said. “Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
As we hear the bells and absorb the rainbow light today, let’s explore our power to create change.
Peyton R. Helm