My Turn, Olen Bruner: Most effective solutions created by, for people

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 15, 2020

By Rev. Olen V. Bruner

Once again, the United States of America is on the move!

Today’s movement emerges from and has erupted into physical and emotional disgust and dismay among most Americans. In response, citizens are forming a national movement against injustice and inequity. Make no mistake, this moment in American history is on scale with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Similarly, the whole world is watching. How will our struggles play out on the world stage? Will foreign influences and unbridled domestic terrorists destroy the fabric of our nation? Or will we rise, once again, to meet this opportunity not just for change but for deep transformation?

The very soul of our nation and of each and every U.S. citizen is challenged. We must question what is just and what is true in the face of “alternative facts” and continuous cries of “fake news.” We are challenged to take responsibility for and to be held accountable to the vision of “liberty and justice for all” that we as a nation have fallen short of achieving. In the catastrophic midst of physical and social pandemics, what challenges does the current state of our nation create for you? Where will your voice be heard? How will you make a difference?

Through data-based evidence and on film, time after time we view injustice after injustice. Abuses of power and threats to marginalized citizens play out before our very eyes, while the needs of our citizens are unrecognized and unaddressed. Our democracy is under the direct attack of partisan politics that pits American citizens against one another, while the advantages created by and for those in power go unnoticed. Once more we, the people, are prodded to pick a sides against one another rather than to face our true enemies of greed and injustice.

Once again, a potential race war is being stoked on behalf of those who gain from our division. This is an instant replay of the 2016 playbook to divide Americans and pit them against one another to the benefit of those in power. If this strategy is not called out for what it is, conflict is imminent. I urge all of us to take a step back and consider the option of coming together to uphold our democracy and rescue it from abuses of power.

The true value within our democratic system is that the most effective solutions to our social problems are created by and for the people, through the policy making process of our elected officials.

The essential questions remain: When are we, the people, going to hold our elected officials accountable for what they do or fail to do? How will we address known inequities within our communities? What solutions will we put forward and how will we gauge the progress of our efforts and the response of our officials? What agenda will we put forward to move toward equity and justice?

This is an unequivocal struggle. We know what is promised to all Americans. We cannot expect others to achieve it for us in the absence of our participation. We must challenge Salisbury’s city council to uphold their commitment to equity as stated in its 2019 Resolution of Reconciliation. We must also step forward to present them with approaches and solutions to the equity challenges we face. In “pandemic America” only together will our efforts at creating justice and equity prevail.

On August 6, please join to view Action in Faith and Justice’s Virtual Community Equity Forum. Local grassroots and nationally affiliated social justice groups will gather together to support citizens in holding ourselves and our elected City Council officials accountable for achieving long overdue solutions to inequity and injustice in our community. Look for details on the event coming soon through social media outlets. Let’s work together to achieve equity and justice!

Rev. Olen V. Bruner is Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church and co-chair of Actions in Faith & Justice.