Plain Talk: Let’s not abandon hope

Plain Talk: Let’s not abandon hope

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By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

What is happening to our nation? The violent rhetoric is at an all time high. It is out of control. The threats of violence against elected officials and public servants is reprehensible.

Many are disgusted with our elected officials. Why would any person of character and integrity want to put his or her family at risk due to this infectious rhetoric that is spreading like wildfire across the country?

Where are our elected leaders when we need them? Elected officials are making ridiculous statements without doing their homework and getting the facts. They are more dangerous than the extremists who are igniting this violence across the country.

Where are our religious leaders? Most  of our major faith traditions have been silent about the new threats of violence across the country, the gun safety issues and the growing number of heroin overdoses that are paralyzing parts of our nation.

Our elected leaders are failing to encourage respectful but comprehensive conversations about the sensitive issues facing all Americans. Instead some are publicly fueling this hateful rhetoric that is inciting violence and putting peoples lives at risk.

What has happened to our moral compass? Compassion, common sense and respect seem to be dead in America. Religion should never be used as a weapon – that is deplorable. Religious leaders who use their puppets to weaponize congregants are disgraceful.

We are a nation of diversity. That is one of the many excellent qualities we have that makes our nation great.

My hope is that our local and national religious leaders will have the courage to lead us, to build better bridges and not stronger walls, to be more inclusive not exclusive. Our religious leaders must lead us by way of example to transcend the hateful rhetoric that is infecting all of us and not contribute to it.

We must reclaim the narrative that incites violence and hatred and re-create the climate of respect and tolerance of all of our differences.

Where has objective truth gone? Why can’t we have intense conversations about important issues and genuinely leave a conversation agreeing to disagree, do it with respect and no hostility.

Disagreements should never lead to threats of violence or violence itself.

We have a very powerful opportunity for political and religious leaders to come together transcend all the hateful rhetoric and violence and have the courage to remind all Americans of the need for renewed respect for all people, even when we differ. 

The younger generation needs to see us come together. So many of them are still recovering from the two years of social isolation due to the pandemic. They need to concretely see each of us engage in difficult conversations that help us to come together and better understand each other.

Hope does not abandon us, we abandon hope. I hope not!

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.