To the Editors:

Last Saturday, over 700 volunteers from town came together to pack meals for hungry children around the world. These volunteers were of all faiths and even perhaps no faith, but we all came together and connected, and our community is the better for it. That connection makes me grieve after hearing of: two incidents of swastikas found in Middlebrook bathrooms; the white supremacy fliers recently distributed in south Wilton; the rock thrown through the window on the property of the Hindu Mandir; and the Instagram incident at the high school showing a gun and saying “let’s have some fun.”

Whenever there is an incident such as any one of these, we tend to run to the targeted group and expect their outrage, which is warranted. While it is important to care for people who are hurt, the incidents should be focused on the broader community, because we all suffer. I am offended that all of these things have happened in our community. As a Christian clergyperson, it is my duty to speak out, and not just see it as a Jewish, Hindu, or other’s issue. When racism, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia are used against others, it is incumbent that all of us respond because we as a whole community are diminished.

Perhaps we are beginning to hear a broader call to personal responsibility in the recent #metoo movement, where women have begun to speak up about their experiences of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and sexual abuse. In his profound TEDtalk, Jason Katz explains these issues are often mislabeled as “women’s issues.” In fact, he says, they are really men’s issues  and point to a lack of leadership for not standing up and teaching our children, teens, and friends and colleagues  what is right and wrong, and how to treat others with respect. (http://bit.ly/1iXu34B)

So yes, I am deeply saddened, as a woman, as a person of faith, as a community member, and as a human being that these bigoted, racist and intolerant incidents (even if done as pranks) have occurred in our wonderful town. And I call on all of us to respond with greater leadership in our spheres of influence to stand up, speak up and be better, for we are all connected. Our community will be the better for it.
Shannon White
Pastor, Wilton Presbyterian Church
Wilton, Oct. 24