The tragic deaths of eight people at Asian spas in and around Atlanta this week have sparked a nationwide conversation about the rising tide of violence and discrimination against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. The exact motives and details about this tragedy are unclear, and we do not know the depths of rage that drove this gunman to take eight innocent lives, including six Asian American women.
But what we do know is that words matter — and that hateful words can lead to violent consequences. How we talk about our neighbors on God’s good Earth is just as important as how we treat them.
And when our words are used to demean and dehumanize, it’s not long before our actions can follow.
When the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed its fury on our global community, too many were too quick to label it as the “China Virus” or “Kung flu.” Soon after, our Asian American neighbors were subjected to slurs, attacks and ugly discrimination. Neighborhoods were targeted, businesses were closed and even children were ostracized.
As America continues to wrestle with its original sin of racism, each of us must remain vigilant. How we speak about the “other” — other races or ethnicities, other genders, other sexual orientations or other beliefs — shapes not only our souls but also our actions.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to see and celebrate each person as a beloved child of God, no matter what color their skin, what language they speak or where they were born. There is no place for casual racism in our country, in our church or in the Kingdom of God.
Together, we pray for the lives that have been shattered and for an end to hatred and violence. May we commit ourselves anew to vanquish the sickness of racism, and to love one another just as God has loved us.
About Washington National Cathedral
Grounded in the reconciling love of Jesus Christ, Washington National Cathedral is a house of prayer for all people, conceived by our founders to serve as a great church for national purposes.