Many religious traditions celebrate holy days this month, so around the world people are being fed by the teachings and practices of their spiritual traditions that call us to live more deeply, love more boldly, and connect more intentionally to the Source that guides us.
This month, Christians are celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus, recognizing the power of God’s love to vanquish oppression and evil. Muslims will be fasting, studying, and praying during Ramadan. This is a practice of self-discipline, sacrifice and empathy for those who are suffering, encouraging acts of generosity and charity. Jews spend seven days observing the pesach or Passover, remembering how God brought them out of captivity and bondage into freedom and new hope. In the Baha’i faith, members celebrate Ridvan, recognizing the moment that their promised one, Baha’u’llah, declared his holy status and asked his followers to obey his teachings of love, generosity and kindness toward all. Hindus and Sikhs are observing Vaisakhi, a celebration of the spring harvest and the new year, and a time of community building, generosity, cleansing and renewal.
That’s a lot of spiritual activity in one month, and we need it! There are many challenges that we face as a country and in our local communities that need the wisdom and guidance of our religious traditions.
This month, Advocate Aurora Health is embarking on a Month of Understanding, challenging ourselves to take up the work of becoming an antiracist organization. Over the next weeks, we will engage in conversations in our departments and teams that help us learn about each other and push us to move out of our comfort zones to be more active in challenging racism, however it is showing up.
As the department within Advocate Aurora Health that considers health and well-being through a faith lens, we invite you into a conversation with us about this. Racism is a public health crisis and is at the root of all of the health inequities that cause poor health for people in our communities. We cannot get to the root and create a new way of being together without that spiritual power that lives in faith communities.
We acknowledge that antiracism work is a journey and we will always be on the way, connecting with our spiritual resources to give us the wisdom and courage to create the world that reflects the justice and compassion of the Holy One. Because it’s a journey, we don’t have to have all the answers today. But it is important to get started and to be bold in whatever it is that we are doing.
Here are five actions that we are committing ourselves to during this Month of Understanding and beyond.
- Make a public commitment to antiracism work. If we say it out loud, we are more likely to integrate that commitment into everything we do. Advocate Aurora Health has joined with other health care systems to publicly denounce racism as a public health crisis.
- Come closer. When we know each other better, we are called into solidarity with each other. We are using a variety of tools to have those conversations.
- Stick with it. This is not a quick fix. Embrace the length of the journey, live in grace, ask for forgiveness, keep trying. Advocate Aurora Health is doubling down on its commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion across our system. We are in it for the long run.
- Claim our power. As people of faith, we have the power of God, the Spirit, Allah, Source or whatever name you use for the Holy One, to be a voice for justice, peace and hope. We look to the wisdom of our faith traditions to give us the courage and inspiration for this work. Find a sample of faith-rooted resources below.
- Rest. Hard things take a lot of energy and can be painful. Be sure to protect yourself, step away, pray and connect with your God, laugh, be with people you love and who love you, sleep.
The resources in our newsletter are ones that we will be using in our antiracism work and that we thought might be of value to you in your own racial justice journey, as well. We know that many of you have been leading these kinds of conversations and activities for years, so we are humble in what we offer and open to what others have to share. If you have a resource that you would like to share with others or if you have ideas about other ways we move together to dismantle racism, please click here to let us know.