By Nyesha Stone
On April 27, 2019, on the last day of the Jewish Passover, 19-year-old John T. Earnes opened fire at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in San Diego. He killed one woman and injured three people.
In such a tragic time, the National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC) held a panel called “A Path Forward.” It featured speakers from around the country who shared the lessons they’ve learned from dealing with crisis and tragedy in their communities, such as a mass shooting.
The panel was held this prior Wednesday at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, Theatre in San Diego.
The panelists included Rev. Tracy Howe Wispelwey of Restoration Village Arts from Charlottesvilee, Rev. Kylon J. Middleton PhD. Of Mount Zion AME Church from Charleston, Joshua Sayles of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburg from Pittsburg and Pardeep Sign Kaleka of Serve 2 Unite from Oak Creek.
Back in 2012, Kaleka’s father was among the six people who were murdered at the Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek. Pain like that has to be processed and one must be honest with their feelings because we need to “feel to heal,” said Kaleka.
Seven years have passed and Kaleka is using his voice to not only speak up for his father and himself, but for any and everyone who’s been through similar situation.
“We can’t heal unless we reveal [and] revealing means acknowledging we have a problem,” he said.
A Path Forward is a way of acknowledging the turmoil our country is going through.
At the panel, Kaleka said the panelists discussed how to move forward and to convey the message that “we’re not going to be defined by what happened to us.” And to take precautions to avoid situations like these from happening in the future.
He stated we must do more than just be inspirational during tragic moments because inspiration comes and goes, but to stay committed to finding a solution.
President of NCRC, Steven Dinkin, moderated the event and said the event was put together because San Diego needed guidance on how to heal and move forward.
“It’s a very challenging situation,” said Dinkin who is originally from Milwaukee. He said these conversations need to be had and everyone needs to be at the table. The solution has to include a multi-faceted approach.
Dinkin said people also need to realize that these types of issues can happen in any community, and that we all need to try to be proactive because everyone plays a role.
He said it simply starts with engaging with others. Often times we get too caught up in our own circles that we’re too afraid to venture off to meet and talk with people who aren’t like us. And when we don’t try to know someone else, prejudices began to appear, he said.
It’s about “having the courage to meet with someone who doesn’t look like yourself,” said Dinkin. Through strengthening our relationships with others then we can begin to move forward.
For more information on future NCRC events, visit https://www.ncrconline.com/.