The Hogg Foundation would like to offer condolences to all of those affected by the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend. As always whenever a disaster occurs, our hearts are with the people directly affected, their families and communities.
At the same time, we should remember that there was nothing natural or inevitable about this tragedy. It was the direct result of the growing tide of hatred and intolerance in our country, one that all humanitarian organizations, and indeed all people have a responsibility to address and counter through all available peaceful means, traditional or unorthodox.
As a mental health foundation, hatred such as that which erupted in Charlottesville undermines everything that we and our philanthropic peers hope to achieve: a world in which past and present inequities are no longer a barrier to individual health and happiness. We recognize that our cardinal aim, improving mental health for Texans, cannot be achieved while our communities are fractured, divided and unequal.
We also recognize that racism and racial violence cause trauma. The connection couldn’t be clearer: a world that is less racist, less intolerant, and less unequal is also one that is less traumatized. Just as clear: love, justice, humor and community are the nourishing conditions for mental health and wellness.
It is typical for this kind of tragedy to result in pleas for diversity and tolerance. We agree with such pleas and hope that they resound widely, but they are not sufficient. More urgent is that those of us who are relatively well fed, well housed, well educated, and well protected use our privilege, and marshal the resources we are lucky enough to have access to, to do our part to help heal an unjust world.
For alienated young people who are at risk of being seduced by racist indoctrination, this means understanding their lives well enough to offer alternatives. While we’re barricading our own communities against the kind of hatred on display in Charlottesville, it is important that we offer not just condemnation, but the benefit of our knowledge to create evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies for vulnerable young minds.
Finally, it will also mean stepping out into spaces where we might not be comfortable, and going beyond the explicit guidance of our charters and by-laws. It is clear that we can’t passively wait for responsible political leadership at a time when too many of our political leaders, of both parties, are willing to sacrifice moral leadership for short-term electoral gains. Those of us who know better must be willing to lead.