There were not enough white faces in the crowd. This was the thought that crossed my mind when I joined the large crowd at the Ball Conference Center in Olathe for the walk to honor the victims of the deeadly shooting in a family restaurant in Olathe. There was a large crowd of brown faces and a smattering of white.
I exited my car alone looking for my spouse and friends. I walked toward a crowd of solemn people behind a group of about 10 young adult brown men. I had no fear. As I found the end of the walking group, I saw three familiar faces, friends of mine, and joined with them. They are Jewish. I am Christian. We walked quietly, we talked some and we hugged one another. As we felt more comfortable talking out loud and sharing our current lives, how they intertwined almost three years ago, I was stopped by a brown couple behind me and offered a hug. I was thankful that they felt comfortable hugging me. I hugged them back. Kindness has no color.
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Hate is real. Evil is real. When hate and evil are not interrupted, redirected or stopped these two can shatter lives. They shattered the lives of my family on April 13, 2014. Since losing my father and son, I have learned information I would rather not know. I wish I didn’t know that the shooter in our murders was well known for years for his anti-Semitic views, tirades and verbal abuse. How many people crossed his path and could have redirected him?
I have also learned much more about the people in our community, their cultures, faiths and commonalities with me. Kindness has no color.
I have been welcomed at Yom Kippur, the most solemn religious fast of the Jewish year, the last of the 10 days of penitence that begin with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). I have attended a few iftars, the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan. I have attended a Shabbat service at a local synagogue. I have attended Friday prayers at a local mosque. I have sat in a meeting with a pastor, a rabbi and an imam. (This is not a joke, although it sounds like a good lead in!) All of these took place while I continued my personal faith in Christianity.
From the moment I came upon my deceased father and injured son in a parking lot, the trajectory of my journey changed. The violence that cut their lives short cuts deep. From overcome with pain to finding healing and peace, my journey is to bring faiths together for understanding. The man who killed on April 13, 2014, and the man who killed on Feb. 22, 2017, have commonalities … other than the color of their skin, which happens to be white. They harbor hate instead of understanding.
We should not stand by and allow anyone else to be so misled by his or her ignorance of the other and let evil and hate overcome them. Understanding leads to kindness. Kindness makes a ripple, and a ripple can form a wave. A wave of understanding and kindness will change our world. Interrupt, redirect and stop ignorance, hate and evil with education, understanding and kindness.
Take action by participating in SevenDays — Make a Ripple, Change the World on April 18-24. Join us in our mission to promote interfaith dialogue by engaging all people to discover commonalities and overcome evil with acts of kindness. Visit GiveSevenDays.org
Mindy Corporon is the mother of Reat Underwood and daughter of Dr. William Corporon, who were murdered by a convicted white supremacist in a hate crime outside of Jewish facilities in April 2014 along with Terri LaManno. Corporon, family and friends created SevenDays — Make a Ripple, Change the World to spread kindness and interfaith understanding.