A Word from the Founder
On April 27, San Diego joined the ranks of international cities traumatized by extremist violence. Were it not for the Poway shooter’s inability to reload his AR-15 ammunition cartridge, casualties could have been unimaginable. We later learned that the same terrorist had set fire to the Islamic Center of Escondido with seven people inside.
Where is this runaway train car of violence going, and what can we do about it? The San Diego Union Tribune stepped up in a big way by partnering with the National Conflict Resolution Center to organize a forum on June 5 entitled, “A Path Forward, Confronting Hate, Bigotry and Ignorance,” which brought San Diegans together to interact with the leaders of several religious communities across the US that have been victimized by extremist violence. This is an important first step.
Speakers at the forum offered up an important 2nd step: encouraging religious leaders to take the message of tolerance and inclusivity back to their congregations. But are these two steps enough? What is the final destination in this “Path Forward?” We have ample evidence staring us in the face that theoretical tolerance and inclusivity from within the confines of homogeneous religious communities is NOT enough.
“Community” without diversity – Is it really community?
I contend that coming together week after week with people who look like, act like, and think like us is really only group think and leads to mob mentality. Real community only takes place when we have no choice but to accommodate the looks, practices, and beliefs of those different than us. More than ever I am convinced that until grassroots Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics, and Atheists can find their way out of fortresses of familiarity and into common spaces, we will continue to struggle.
In my personal experience, it was when I took the action of leaving the familiarity of my own country, my own culture, and my own religious community that my eyes were opened.
I challenge imams, rabbis, pastors and community leaders to make it a priority to organize and promote events that bring grassroots members together across man-made boundaries. I challenge community members to take advantage of every opportunity, and if leaders don’t create opportunities, create your own opportunities to get out of comfortable social circles.
Salaam, Shalom, Peace, Mahalo
In this issue you’ll learn about
Refugee Integration Pilot Program to Kick Off in September
Salaam is partnering with the Joan B Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego to develop a long term refugee integration program. Most refugee programs function on a triage level, just making sure that refugees have their basic needs met in the early weeks of their arrival. But these programs fall short when it comes to long term integration into American society. Recognizing that integration is a two-way street, we’ll work with the Kroc Institute to bring groups of refugees together with mainstream community members for exercises and dialog.
The pilot project will be for women only and start in September. We are looking for women volunteers to participate in the discussion group with refugee women. Please contact us if you are interested in participating in the program.
Book Release Celebrations
After two years of hard work, it’s finally time for Steve’s book to be released (July 15). It has been a labor of love and a work of personal redemption. Preorders are coming in by the dozens, and several key reviewers have called it essential reading:
“Effectively countering pernicious, misinformed narratives, this is an essential contribution to interfaith studies.” Publishers Weekly
“I wrote Why Do They Hate Us? in part as an attempt to repay my debt to the people of Kazakhstan for the love and hospitality they poured out upon me and my family, and in part to bring something good out of the profound family tragedy that proceeded from the misguided motivation that led me to take my family there in the first place.”
“I would be deeply honored by your presence at my book release party on July 27 at a beautiful private home in Mission Hills.” The address will be provided upon a firm RSVP on the FB invite.
Please check out Steve’s new website (steveslocum.com) where you can read the reviews, pre-order, sign up for giveaways, and keep track of Steve’s speaking schedule.
All proceeds from pre-orders and the first 5000 books sold will go directly towards the work of Salaam.