Everyone Is Our Neighbor

Rector Kathy Giles
SPS Community Faces Challenges Together
These past weeks and months have been extraordinary times around the world and in the United States. We’re in the early phases of the end of this election, an election that has turned out more voters than any in U.S. history in what has been a time of strife and suffering. And in the midst of all the discord, we find ourselves powerfully unified in the most basic ways, among them:
  • We all want to live in a just, equitable world, country, and community.
  • We all want to live in healthy communities that are safe for us, for our families, and for everyone.
  • We all want to work through and past COVID and do whatever it takes to get to the end of this pandemic while we protect those most vulnerable.
  • We want, individually and collectively, to be respected and valued as humans, each gifted with our own spark of divinity, equal in all ways before God and before each other.  

To achieve those ends, as we have been saying here on the grounds all fall, we must love our neighbors as ourselves, and everyone is our neighbor. It has never been more true that “we are all in this together.”
I am very grateful for our community’s work these past weeks to develop ways to disagree with ideas without dehumanizing the people who express them. That work is an important way we educate each other as ethical citizens and as good people. Here on the grounds, the entire School community has been deeply engaged in learning how to disagree while adhering to our core values of respect, kindness, compassion, honesty, and integrity. Members of the Young Democrats Club and the Young Republicans Club were busy all fall, learning how to engage with voters – remotely – in the midst of the pandemic. Students in those clubs and in our Humanities class, “Practical Politics,” led the community in post-election “teach-ins” that fostered questions and discussions. Being ethical citizens in a functioning democracy requires work from each and all of us, and our faculty and students have led the way this fall on the grounds of engaging all of us in important conversations about our collective future.
In Chapel, post-election, we gave thanks to our neighbors across the country who have done the work of this election, from delivering ballots to working at polls to everything else it takes to get 150+ million votes accounted for, with integrity and courage and commitment. Yesterday, on Veterans Day, we celebrated those who have served and those who are serving to keep our democracy strong. In the upcoming days, while controversy and partisan politics will continue to fill the internet and airwaves, I hope we will continue to respect each other as we hope to be respected ourselves and be early participants in building the path forward. That is the work of people of hope, optimists, and builders, and that is us, and that is what we can do for each other and for our world. Humanities faculty members Kevin Brooks and Christine Carter shared their thoughts about service in the Veterans Day Chapel service. Their remarks are available here.
In the midst of this unprecedented fall, and as we get ready to send our students home to families around the world, we wish everyone the time and space to give thanks.



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